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Public urination is not just a nuisance, it is also disrespect and disregard of other people’s comfort– especially women! And now we are getting urinated on instead of roads!
On November 26th 2022, an inebriated man business-class passenger on an Air-India flight from New York to New Delhi who happened to be a man named Shankar Mishra— had urinated on a fellow 72-year-old woman passenger and had walked scot-free.
The incident came into focus when the woman had written a complaint letter addressed to the Chairman of Tata Group, N Chandrasekaran! Appalled by the cabin crew’s actions who were alert of the incident, and how the airline staff handled the situation poorly; she saw no other recourse but to write an open letter. Which had Shankar Mishra under 30 day no fly ban from Air-India, a FIR has been lodged against him; after which he went missing!
This was not the first time men have misbehaved and taken liberties in their air-journeys – last month an Indigo Flight Attendant was verbally abused by a man over a sandwich order and in another flight a fight broke out between two men over luggage placement. And if we keep looking further back, many more incidents would pop up!
A business-class flight ticket comes with the assurance of highest comfort and privacy and security, yet, we Indian women can’t seem to escape Indian men’s uncontrollable bladder. Public urination is an offence under The Section 290 Of The Indian Penal Code, which, if reported, can bring a fine up to Rs. 200. Yet we know the situation, don’t we?
While the government of India vigorously promotes the Swachh Bharat, do Indian men just have such tiny bladders that they can’t even walk to a public toilet or private toilet in the flight to relieve themselves? Again, this was not a standalone incident, 10 days after this, there’s another incident on another Air-India flight where a man has urinated on a woman’s blanket!
Public urination is not just a nuisance, it is also disrespect and disregard of other people’s comfort– especially women! We women didn’t sign up for this, yet while on the road we often run into a man with his zip down, comfortably providing ammonia fertilizer to the moss on the concrete. And a few minutes later, the stink would follow and invade our nostrils! Why should we keep accommodating this gross behaviour?
And now to think that after urinating on the road, on the garbage bin, in a dark corner of an alley or under a tree was not enough, they are now relieving themselves on women! Shows their disrespect for women as human beings and a toxic sense of entitlement!
According to the TOI report, Shankar had already exhibited unruly behaviour— he was drunk, and he went to the seat which was not allotted to him, and then he proceeded to unzip and urinate on her! After that, Shankar didn’t leave, he stood there exposing himself to her, until other passengers asked him to leave!
Some people on the internet have pinpointed the blame on alcohol, as it caused Shankar Mishra to lose their sensibility! And some went further, asking for alcohol ban on flights, why should one man’s lack of self awareness take away other’s privilege?
It is endearing to watch people wash a man clean of his actions committed under the influence of alcohol, but if it was a woman who was drunk, would we be so kind to her and let her walk free?
But after reading this letter by the survivor, the matter seems to be worse than it appears to be!
What happened is not only obscene but also constitutes as sexual abuse. And the staff were thoroughly incompetent in handling the issue— the victim was made to sit in the crew area for two hours, following that they tried to move her back to the soiled seat and the pilot vetoed against giving her a new seat, despite few business class seats being available!
And the culprit who is Vice President of an international bank and family man apologized— begged and begged— asking for forgiveness, and the cabin crew made sure the victim had to face him without her consent despite her repeatedly expressing otherwise.
Why is it that whenever a woman has to face the worst of the worst behaviour— she has to be the greater person and consider the aftermath caused by an inconsiderate man’s action? Why should she take responsibility for his lack of better judgement?
Yesterday, Shankar Mishra’s father, Shyam Mishra, a lawyer, had an exclusive interview with Preeti Choudhury of India Today. In the interview, he repeatedly denied his son’s crimes and tried to push the blame on the victim! Claiming his son was pressured to apologize and later dry-clean the soiled clothes and pay ₹15000 as reimbursement! And to solidify his argument he added, “When a woman makes, accusations a man gets frightened.”
When Preeti Choudhury refused to accept this narrative, Shyam Mishra’s closing message to the victim were— “Woh uske maa jesi hai, aur maa jesa dil rakhna chaiye,” which translates as, she is like a mother, and she should have a mother’s heart! Shyam Mishra indirectly asked for a forgiveness!
After facing such harassment, the victim had not received a proper apology for the trauma faced, or full refunding of the ticket for the seat she didn’t sit on, or full refurbishment for property damaged. On top, of it, we have the lifetime of psychological trauma caused to an elderly woman!
It took more than a month, for the victim to get any justice, it just further establishes how unprotected women are in this country. The staff didn’t deal the issue with the gravity or empathy it deserves and let Shankar Mishra walk free, because he was a VIP costumer. But does money and privilege wash away all your follies? It definitely didn’t wash way stench he left behind!
Mishra, who was absconding, was fired by his employers yesterday and was finally tracked down and arrested in Bengaluru toady and has been taken to Delhi police for further questioning.
After facing backlash from the entire population, Air India, CEO Campbell Wilson released a statement,”Air India is deeply concerned about the in-flight instances where customers have suffered due to the condemnable acts of their co-passengers on our aircraft. We regret and are pained about these experiences,” and the 4 cabin crew members have been issued show cause and de-rostered.
Not only does this reflect poorly on Air-India, it also presents a very unsafe image of the country to international travellers. The crime happened on an international flight, and as more such stories come into light, the international media would love to focus their biased lenses on us and portray us further in a derogatory light!
Image source: Still from British Airways: Fuelled by Love, edited on CanvaPro
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