India's Civil Aviation Ministry on Friday revoked a flight ban hours after it had been handed to a lawmaker for beating an employee of state-run Air India, officials said Friday. The national carrier had earlier Friday cancelled tickets booked by Ravindra Gaikwad from the Hindu right-wing Shiv Sena Party.
The turnaround was prompted because Gaikwad wrote to civil aviation minister Ashok Gajapathi Raju to express regret.
"The minister has directed us to lift the ban in view of the apology ... The ban has therefore been lifted with immediate effect," Air India spokesman GP Rao said.
Gaikwad had repeatedly beaten the Air India employee with a sandal on March 23 after he was refused a business class seat on what staffers say was an all-economy airline.
He later bragged before TV cameras that he had hit the staffer "25 times with my sandal" for showing arrogance. Air India and all private Indian airlines refused to fly Gaikwad amid widespread criticism of his behaviour, forcing the legislator to travel by train during the past weeks.
Gaikwad's Shiv Sena Party is known for its extremist views and is accused of promoting ethnic and religious intolerance.
In 2015, its activists smeared the face of an Indian political analyst with black ink because he organized the launch of a book by a minister from neighbouring rival Pakistan.