KARACHI: A middle-aged female passenger of a Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) flight on Saturday physically assaulted a younger woman after yelling at her near the entrance of the plane.
According to reports, the incident took place when the two business class passengers were boarding flight number 302 in Karachi.
Eyewitnesses and Airport Security Force (ASF) sources reported that the people on the plane recognised the assaulter as Sharmeen Abbas Naqvi, wife of Aga Khan University’s (AKU) dean.
It was earlier reported that both the passengers were offloaded from the plane after the physical attack, however, family sources of the victim later told that she decided not to board the plane after her clothes were torn – leaving her in a condition in which she couldn’t have travelled.
They also said that the younger passenger registered a complaint with the ASF, but no actions were taken.
“I was seated beside the victim who was extremely respectful, quiet and in her 20s. Right before takeoff, the victim went to the restroom right outside the cockpit. Upon her return, she stood in the kitchen and was speaking to cabin crew facing the cockpit. Out of nowhere, a middle-aged woman angrily grabbed her from the back and neck. Everyone was in complete shock,” reported a passenger who was witness to the whole fiasco.
“The victim was defenceless and kept shouting, “Who are you? Why are you hurting me? What are you doing? Stop.” Many other bystanders and I rushed to help the victim whose clothes had been completely torn and was being dragged by her hair while she yelled and cried. The cabin crew was helping but no air hostesses or women came to the rescue. Since all the help was coming from men, they couldn’t touch the assaulter so, they acted as a shield.”
“I, along with the air hostesses begged the assaulter’s husband to help and stop his wife but he just stood there. Then the assaulter attacked the victim with glasses that were kept in a kitchen tray. Finally, the cabin crew managed to help the victim, they took her to the cockpit and the door was shut with the victim safe inside. The security was called and the assaulter was restrained and escorted off the plane.”
ASF sources said the victim, who is believed to be related to both the plane’s pilot and her suspected attacker, had made her way towards the cockpit after being verbally abused but was stopped by assaulter, who pounced on the victim.
Other eyewitnesses also reported that the attacker’s husband calmly witnessed the incident and did not intervene despite repeated requests from bystanders.
The scuffle caused the flight to be delayed by 35 minutes, the ASF sources told a local news channel.
After reports of the incident started doing rounds on social media, PIA tweeted saying that the attacker had been handed over to the ASF by the airline.
Security of all parked aircraft is the responsibility of the Airport Security Force. Mid-Air the Captain holds temporary magisterial powers but will hand over PAX as soon as the aircraft lands. In this case the assaulter was handed over to ASF by PIA.
Security of all parked aircraft is the responsibility of the Airport Security Force. Mid-Air the Captain holds temporary magisterial powers but will hand over PAX as soon as the aircraft lands. In this case the assaulter was handed over to ASF by PIA
— PIA (@Official_PIA) March 3, 2018
However, ASF sources report that no charges were pressed against the assaulter.