A week after a 40-year-old wheelchair-bound passenger went missing from the Kempegowda International Airport terminal, the police found him on Tuesday morning in Kannamangala village. He was lying on the kerb outside a roadside eatery, around 10 km from the airport.
Richpal had fractured his leg while working in a tile manufacturing unit in Chittoor in Andhra Pradesh, and had been advised bed rest by his doctor.
He decided to go to his village in Rajasthan, and booked himself on a flight from Bengaluru to Jaipur on July 10. His friend, Mukesh Kumar, dropped him off at the departure gate around 9.20 a.m. He did not board the flight and was reported missing.
Inquiries by the police revealed that Richpal had allegedly been stopped by security personnel who asked him to submit a medical certificate. In his statement to the police, Richpal said he was baffled. He was not aware that he had to provide one to board the flight. Security personnel allegedly refused to allow him to board the flight.
With nowhere to go and no one to turn to in Bengaluru and only Rs. 300 in his pocket, Richpal wanted to return to Chittoor. “But he was unable to walk because of his injured leg. He spent the entire day on the side of a road at the back of a hotel near the airport.
On July 11, Richpal was found lying on the roadside by an airport towing vehicle. The staff offered to drop him to the main road from where a taxi driver took him to Kannamangala, a senior police officer said .
Meanwhile, Mukesh Kumar was desperately looking for Richpal after learning that he did not arrive in Jaipur. He filed a missing person complaint. Police inquired with the airport staff.
A police officer said, “We learned that the towing vehicle staff had dropped him off at the main road. We tracked him to Kannamangala where he was lying on the footpath. Without food and medication, he looked exhausted.”
A BIAL spokesperson said that the passenger was denied boarding at the departure gate by the airline ‘due to his intoxication and conduct’. “This was in accordance with national and international aviation safety protocol. Airline staff ensured that the gentleman exited the terminal building safely after completing the airline and security requirements.”
The police said that Richpal was not inebriated when they found. His friend has taken him back to Chittoor. His family is yet to meet him.
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