Air India pilots’ allowances have been delayed by five months. On Saturday, it meant CISF inspector Guru Tejpal Singh’s funeral would have to be deferred by a day.
Singh’s body, accompanied by his daughter, was supposed to reach his hometown of Ropar in Punjab by a Mumbai-Chandigarh Air India flight. That never happened.
The coffin got stuck during the flight’s scheduled halt at Delhi airport as the pilots refused to fly further. They, like many of their colleagues in the crunch-hit airline, were protesting the delay in payment of dues.
Singh, 48, died of blood-clotting in a Mumbai hospital on Friday.
The Air India flight carrying his body took off from Mumbai at 7am and was to reach Chandigarh at 10.55am. Once it got grounded in Delhi, Singh’s grieving daughter Guneet Kaur spent almost six hours trying to get the body released from the cargo.Guneet, who works with a private airline, faced a long bureaucratic procedure and paperwork.
“My father died in Mumbai. We got to know about the pilots’ protest almost half an hour after the flight landed in Delhi. It was very difficult to get the body released from cargo,” she said. “I had to call a hearse van to take my father’s body to our ancestral home by road.”
The hearse van was arranged from AIIMS with the help of the CISF team stationed at Terminal 3 of the Delhi airport. And then began — for one last time — Singh’s journey home.