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Celebrity cricketers ordered off plane

Thiruvananthapuram, Feb. 21: Thirty members of the Kerala Strikers cricket team, including Malayalam movie celebrities, were today asked to get off an IndiGo plane at Kochi airport for allegedly behaving in an “unruly” manner just before take-off.

The 30 were headed to Hyderabad to play tomorrow’s Celebrity Cricket League semi-final against the Bhojpuri Dabanggs. The players and the captain of the flight, which left with 30 empty seats, have filed complaints with police.

The manager of the cricket team, owned and captained by Malayalam superstar Mohanlal, claimed to The Telegraph the row had been sparked by “the ego of an airhostess”.

Mohanlal was not travelling with the team as he was “tired” after returning from Ranchi, where a match against the Bengal Tigers was washed out earlier this week.

Recounting what happened today, manager Edavela Babu said: “IndiGo is our travel partner and we usually cheer after the crew finishes announcing the flight safety instructions. This happened today too.

“But the airhostess came to us and asked us who had whistled. She was rough and tough and refused to listen to our explanation. Then she went and complained to the pilot, who in turn asked us to leave the aircraft.”

Reports said the airline too had intimated the police about the ruckus on the 1pm flight. According to its complaint, the “celebrities”, who are part of the Association of Malayalam Movie Artists, had resorted to “unruly behaviour” and the captain had been well within his rights to ask them to leave.

Other fliers had apparently begun raising their voices as the flight was getting delayed, the reports said.

Babu denied the allegations of unruly conduct. “We have filed a complaint with the police and will wait for the report before deciding to approach a court to seek compensation. We will also move the director-general of civil aviation,” he said.

The team left for Hyderabad by a night flight. One of its members was Bineesh Kodiyeri, whose father Kodiyeri Balakrishnan is a CPM politburo member.

Twenty-seven members had booked themselves in a group. Three had separate tickets.