The strike by Airport Authority of India (AAI) employees against privatisation of Mumbai and Delhi airports was on Wednesday marred by violence.
Police resorted to lathicharge to disperse workers on a sit-in at Chhatrapati Shivaji Terminus in Mumbai.
According to the police, at least five persons, including a policeman, were injured after the police resorted to lathicharge to stop the employees from breaking the police cordon in their attempt to enter the airport terminal building.
Five persons were injured in the commotion following the lathicharge but no (no) one was injured in the lathicharge," Deputy Commissioner of Police Ravindra Shengaonkar said. However, the AAI Employees Union claimed that about 25 persons were injured and taken to Nanavati Hospital and other nearby medical centres. Police resorted to lathicharge thrice. First to prevent workers from breaking the cordon, then to stop them from entering the airport and in the third and last round to disperse the agitators as they blocked the car parking area to disrupt passenger movement, Police said.
The joint Secretary of AAI Employee’s Union Nitin Jadav, however, condemned the police lathicharge and claimed it was unprovoked. After the police lathicharge, workers dispersed but returned after a while and once again staged a sit-in dharna at the airport entrance.
However, the air traffic and passenger movement remained unaffected as Air Traffic Controllers did not join the strike. Most airlines, including Jet Airways and Indian, reported normalcy of flight operations.
Describing the strike as "total", the union leader claimed that 3,000 airport employees in various sections such as maintenance, aerobridge, electricity and communicataions joined the agitation. A spokesman of Indian said, "Due to unavailability of aerobridges, step-ladders were used. The airlines also asked the passengers to travel light." Indian and Jet Airways said there was no delay or cancellation of flights.