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CNN News 18 spreads half truth about Indigo not allowing Kashmiri family to board flight on ‘flimsy pretext’

The only question that remains now is why CNN News 18 chose to lie and obfuscate to further the faulty narrative of the entire country victimising Kashmiris when the truth had already been put out there by Indigo Airlines a day before on 24th February 2019.

The Pulwama terrorist attack left the entire nation in a state of shock. The Pakistan sponsored terror attack that left 44 CRPF soldiers dead was carried out by terrorist group Jaish-e-Mohommad. In the aftermath of the terror attack, as the nation mourned the loss of our soldiers, the usual ‘liberal’ ecosystem started fearmongering about Kashmiris being under attack to change the focus from the terror attack. Now, CNN News 18 has also joined the bandwagon.

CNN News 18 reported this morning that a Kashmiri family was not allowed to board a flight by Indigo Airlines on ‘flimsy pretext’ of their surname not being mentioned. They tweeted, ‘They were not allowed even showing their Aadhar. Their tickets were cancelled and were asked to pay additional money for fresh tickets’.

The case pertains to one that was brought to the fore by the Kashmiri career protestor and JNU student Shehla Rashid.

Shehla Rashid, on 24th February, had tweeted that a Kashmiri family was not being allowed by Indigo to board the flight due to a mix up in the name on the ticket and their documents. She said, “the travel agent has missed the daughter’s middle name and only her first and last names show on the itinerary. The mother’s last name on her Aadhaar card says “Bano” but the travel agent put her husband’s last name!” She then urged the airline to ‘take a compassionate view’ because the father did not specify the full name to the travel agent.

An hour later, Shehla tweeted an ‘update’ on the ‘case’. She wrote that Indigo had offered a refund for the Banday family and that the family will buy new tickets. She said it was an ‘unfortunate incident where a family is punished for the travel agent’s error’.

Interestingly, while Shehla Rashid played up the Kashmiri victim card, Indigo responded to Shehla clarifying the entire issue. Indigo Airlines said that according to the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, the name on the ticket has to match with the name on the government ID card. Indigo tweeted that they do have a process for name rectification but this was the case of ‘name change’. Under the circumstances, Indigo said, tickets are to be cancelled and fresh tickets issued. This option was declined by the passengers but as a ‘gesture’, the airline decided to refund the money spent by the family on tickets.

Shehla Rashid, not the one to let her Kashmiri victim card slip away alleged that the Airline was indulging in profiling. She said that Indigo was asking for additional money for the new tickets and hence the family declined the option.

She followed that up with an unsubstantiated comment that the staff ‘clearly said that they take these “extra measures” for J&K and that this was a clear case of profiling.

Shehla Rashid tried her best to play the Kashmiri victim card, however, the Airline rules are the same for everyone. If the Airline finds a gross discrepancy in the name between what is mentioned in the ticket and the name mentioned in the Government ID card, it is obvious that the Airline would take extra measures to follow the Security rules.

Also, even if the staff said that they take “extra measures” for passengers flying to J&K, one has to realise that Kashmir comes under a ‘disturbed area’ and for Airlines to take extra security measures is natural. For Shehla to turn a routine security check into a “Kashmiri in danger” narrative is sinister.

What is worse is how CNN News 18 toed the exact same propaganda line without checking the relevant facts. CNN News 18 tweeted, “A Kashmiri family was not allowed to board a plane yesterday by Indigo on a flimsy’ pretext that their surname was not mentioned. They were not allowed even showing their Aadhar. Their tickets were cancelled and were asked to pay additional money for fresh tickets”.

There are several things wrong with that assertion.

  1. The pretext of names on tickets and corresponding names on the government ID not matching is not a ‘flimsy pretext’. It is the security norm. That is exactly why there is a rule for passengers to produce their government IDs so that the Airline can ensure security.
  2. There is no evidence to prove that they were not allowed to show their Aadhaar card. In fact, as the airline mentioned already, they were given the option to change tickets but they declined and thereafter, their money was refunded.
  3. Yes, they were asked to pay additional fees for fresh tickets but CNN News 18 fails to mention that the option was declined by the passengers. In fact, it fails to mention that Indigo initiated a refund as a “gesture”.

The only question that remains now is why CNN News 18 chose to lie and obfuscate to further the faulty narrative of the entire country victimising Kashmiris when the truth had already been put out there by Indigo Airlines a day before on 24th February 2019.

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