Recounting the harrowing experience she had to go through onboard an Air India flight which was also flying the controversial godman Asaram Bapu, Dessidre Fleming, a media professional has revealed that the airlines officials and the swami’s ‘bhakts’, broke several protocols putting the lives of other passengers at risk.
The incident occurred as Asaram, who is currently lodged in a Rajasthan jail, was being transferred to New Delhi after the Supreme Court permitted him to travel to AIIMS for treatment.
For starters, the flight, which was originally scheduled for 10.30 am, was delayed by over 3 hours, and no explanation was given, revealed Dessidre, writing for a website. The long wait ended abruptly at around 2.00 pm, when Asaram Bapu was wheeled onto the base of the flight. “Those boarding Jaipur-Delhi flight, please form a line,” the support staff reportedly called out. But ordeals of Dessidre and the 60 odd passengers in the aircraft were far from over.
The usual in-flight instructions were not given by the airhostesses, and the air conditioning was switched off. The evasive cabin crew initially claimed that there were some technical difficulties, but on further probing, confessed that it was the godman’s presence that did the trick.
“Ma’am, he is 89 years old and they are saying he is unwell, one of the flight attendants said. She seemed to understand the plight of the remaining 60 to 65 passengers but remained unable to do anything about it,” Dessidre wrote.
She also claimed that the ‘bhakts’ continuously laughed off the flight attendant’s requests to be seated and strap on the seat belts.
Apparently, when the flight took off, many of his devotees were standing and those seated did not care to wear seat belts. “Seat belt ki kya zaroorat jab swayam bhagwaan hamare saath hain? (What is the need of a seat belt when God Himself is travelling with us?),” a passenger was quoted as saying.
Asaram was arrested in September last for allegedly sexually assaulting a minor girl at his Jodhpur ashram, and faces a slew of other sexual harassment cases against him.
There is only one god and 65 passengers could very well have been on their way to that God had the turbulence carried on because the cabin crew did not administer instructions on how to save lives—basic protocol and one of the most basic parts of their job descriptions.