Dangal actress Zaira Wasim, 17, has alleged she was molested mid-air by a middle-aged man, drawing strong reactions by women rights activists and politicians. The airline apologized and Mumbai Police, which registered an FIR, arrested the accused on Sunday.
The National Award winning Kashmiri actress complained about her ordeal on the flight on Saturday, claiming that a middle-aged man seated behind her moved his foot up and down her neck and back.
In a self-shot video for an Instagram live chat, Zaira is also seen breaking down.
“I just landed, the whole irony of this that I yelled… and this is not done… this is not how you should be treated or made to feel. This is terrible.”
“This is how they will take care of girls? No one will help us if we don’t decide to help ourselves and that is the worst thing,” she said, looking visibly disturbed.
Late on Sunday night, the Mumbai Police arrested the accused, identified as Vikas Sachdeva, 39. According to police, Sachedeva, a resident of Andheri, was earlier detained this afternoon and questioned before arrested for molestation and on other charges.
The incident drew wide condemnation.
Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she was appalled.
“Any harassment or crime against women should be dealt with swiftly and effectively. As a mother of two daughters, I am appalled at what happened with Zaira,” Mufti tweeted and urged the authorities to take strict action.
Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the passenger should be identified by Air Vistara and a case should be filed.
The Civil Aviation Ministry has sought a report on the incident while the National Commission for Women (NCW), as well as the Delhi and Maharashtra commisions for women, urged the actress to approach the police.
NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma, Swati Maliwal of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) Chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar, issued notices to authorities concerned to take due action.
DCW has already sought answers from Vistara Airlines seeking details of the action taken by airlines.
Vistara Airlines apologized to Zaira and said it was carrying out a detailed investigation.
“We will support Wasim in every way required and also if she decides to report this matter to the police… We apologize for what Wasim experienced and we have zero tolerance for such behaviour,” read a post on the Airlines’ official Twitter page.
From the film industry, director Onir and actress Swara Bhaskar came out in support of Zaira, who was also lauded for her performance in Secret Superstar.
“Shame Vistara that your staff did nothing. Shame on all the passengers, they are equally guilty as this moron. It should not be difficult for airlines to locate him from seat no. He should be arrested and punished,” Onir tweeted.
Swara slammed it an “intolerable” incident and said, “We are now at that point where a 17-year-old child has to remind us what is right and what is wrong. I’m so sorry that adults around you let you down, Zaira Wasim. But you keep up the good fight. Stay strong.”