High voltage drama was witnessed at the Delhi airport on Thursday after Congress leader Pawan Khera was deplaned from a Raipur-bound aircraft, leading to sloganeering and dharna at the tarmac by party leaders, even as other passengers quizzically stared at the goings-on.
The majority of the passengers had boarded IndiGo's flight 6E 204 when commotion was heard at the front-end seats. To start with, everyone thought it as some confusion over luggage but soon Khera along with other senior Congress leaders like K C Venugopal and Randeep Surjewala got down the plane.
Several reporters and leaders, travelling to Raipur for the Congress' plenary session, realised that there was something wrong and slowly began to gather at the tarmac where Khera and other Congress leaders were seen asking why he was deplaned.
Soon, Delhi Police reached the spot and asked for Khera to come along with them on account of an Assam Police request.
Congress leaders refused to allow Khera to be taken by the police demanding written documents such as an FIR or an arrest warrant.
By this time, several senior leaders and former ministers such as Mani Shankar Aiyar and Tariq Anwar, who were travelling in the plane, also came down and joined the protest.
Unprecedented scenes were witnessed as Congress leaders sat on a dharna near the aircraft at the tarmac and raised slogans such as 'Jab jab Modi darta hai, police ke peeche chupta hai' and 'Tanashahi nahi chalegi'.
Amid the sloganeering, several passengers, distressed by the delay, came down to witness the goings-on while many just sat in the plane asking those returning to the aircraft after witnessing the scenes how much delay would happen.
Several passengers said common people should not suffer like this and the matter should be dealt with in a manner that does not hamper their schedule.
Some also complained that they had small children waiting for them at home and the delay had put them in a fix.
When the deadlock between the police and the Congress leaders continued the other passengers were requested by airline staff to come down from the plane with their cabin baggage and board the buses to be taken to the terminal.
Meanwhile, the deadlock was broken when police showed documents from Assam Police requiring the help of Delhi Police in detaining Khera over a case under their jurisdiction.
Common passengers were taken by bus back to Terminal 1 of the Delhi airport and handed refreshments. They later were brought back to the same plane as the flight readied for take-off after about four hours of delay. The flight finally took off around 4 pm.
Amid the furore, IndiGo said the passenger was deplaned by the police and it was following the advice of authorities concerned.
"The flight is delayed as of now and we regret the inconvenience caused to other passengers," the carrier said in a statement.
"A passenger was deplaned by the police at the Delhi airport from Raipur-bound flight 6E 204. Some other passengers have also decided to deboard on their own accord," it added.
The Congress top brass will be in attendance at the 85th plenary session that will primarily endorse the presidentship of Mallikarjun Kharge and will pave the way for the new working committee led by him.
The February 24-26 session, which comes in the backdrop of the Bharat Jodo Yatra that has been touted as a success by the party, will be attended by around 15,000 delegates.