Air India scandal: Woman says ‘peed on herself’ claim by accused ‘completely false and concocted’

A man accused of exposing himself and urinating on an elderly woman on a flight from New York to Delhi in November last year claimed that his co-passenger peed on herself instead.

Shankar Mishra was reportedly drunk during the journey onboard an Air India flight on 26 November when he allegedly unzipped his pants and urinated on the septuagenarian seated in business class.

Following an outrage, Mr Mishra, an employee of American financial services company Wells Fargo, was arrested last week. He was denied bail and sent to 14-day judicial remand on Saturday.

The defendant's lawyer, Ramesh Gupta, told a session's court on Friday that Mr Mishra was innocent and that the woman urinated on herself.

The lawyer claimed that the woman was “suffering from some disease related to prostate” which he added several Kathak (classical) dancers suffer from.

“The seating system was such that no one could go to her seat… Her seat could only be approached from behind, and in any case the urine could not reach to seat’s front area,” the lawyer argued.

Responding to the allegations, the septuagenarian woman said his remarks were in “complete contradiction and a complete volte-face of the statements and the pleaded case of the accused in his bail application”.

She was quoted as saying by NDTV that “instead of being remorseful for the utterly disgusting act committed by him, he has adopted a campaign of spreading misinformation and falsities with the intent of further harassing the victim”.

She added that her intention has been to ensure that institutional changes are made “so that no individual has to go through the horrendous experience that the victim suffered”.

Mr Mishra’s lawyers had argued that there was another woman seated next to the 70-year-old who wasn’t affected at all, which couldn’t have been possible if the banker had peed on the victim.

“How is that possible, how is the other woman not enraged,” the lawyer asked. “This logic fails the basic physics and we have been saying this from the start. There have not been any old grudges between both of them, what was alleged does not make sense.”

The chairman of Air India-owner Tata Sons, N Chandrasekaran, last Sunday spoke of his “personal anguish” over an incident saying that the airline’s response “should have been much swifter” and admitted that it “fell short of addressing this situation the way it should have been”.

The airline’s crew has been accused of failing to take any action against the man at the time, and the incident only came to light earlier this month when the woman wrote a letter to Mr Chandrasekaran.

His statement comes after the country’s aviation regulator pulled up the Tata Group-owned airline for its poor handling of the incident.

The Directorate General of Civil Aviation called the crew’s handling of the incident “unprofessional” and criticised the airline for “systemic failure” in dealing with the issue.

The regulator ordered Air India’s top officials, the flight’s pilot and the crew to provide an explanation of their conduct within two weeks.