Disgruntled ex-employee spreads fake rumours about airline, is booked

Updated: Apr 17, 2020, 08:15 IST | Anurag Kamble | Mumbai

He sent an email to police commissioner, the DGCA, home minister, claiming a chartered flight of the airline had not been sanitised

The man allegedly sent an email and WhatsApp posts scaring the airline's employees. Representation pic
The man allegedly sent an email and WhatsApp posts scaring the airline's employees. Representation pic

THE Marine Drive police have booked a former employee for spreading misinformation about a well-known airline. Police said the accused was removed from service in 2014, and since then he has been attempting to disrupt the functioning of the airline. This time, he sent an e-mail and WhatsApp posts saying a chartered flight of the airline had gone to France from Mumbai to drop off French nationals on April 2 and it was not sanitised, posing a COVID-19 threat to the crew.

What happened

On April 3, an e-mail was received by 17 persons including Sahar police, DCP (Zone 8), the police commissioner, health minister, aviation minister, various secretaries of government departments, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA), other officers from DGCA and Home Minister Amit Shah. The mail was sent by a person named KVJ Rao, saying no procedure was followed during operation of the chartered flight on April 2.

"The e-mail mentioned that the flight did not have clearance from DGCA, health officials did not take appropriate care of crew members and passengers, and also that it was not known whether passengers were quarantined," said a police officer. "The mail contained a picture of passengers in flight not wearing masks, a picture of a closely-packed crowd, and a consent form usually filled by crew," added the officer.

The contents of the mail were sent on WhatsApp to several employees of the airline which scared crew members and ground staff that worked on this flight. The police said many employees refused to come to work citing various reasons. When the reason for the refusal was probed company officials came across the email sent by KVJ Rao.

Officials rushed to the Marine Drive police station on April 15 and registered an offence against Rao. "The mail and messages disrupted the functioning of the company to a certain extent, that too, at a time when there is a health emergency like the COVID-19 epidemic when operation of passenger flights and cargo flights is absolutely necessary," said a senior police officer.

Accused booked

The police have booked Rao under IPC Sections 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant), 500 (defamation), 505(2) ( Statements creating or promoting enmity, hatred or ill-will between classes) and relevant sections of National Disaster Management Guidelines. This is not the first time that Rao has been booked by cops. In 2012 Rao along with one more person, had allegedly posted lewd jokes about politicians, made derogatory comments against the prime minister and insulted the national flag in Facebook posts.

"We have booked the accused and will be sending a notice to him. Considering the e-mail and WhatsApp messages, he might be booked under some sections of the IT Act too," said Mrutyunjay Hiremath, senior inspector of Marine Drive police station.

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