Kingfisher Airlines Chairman Vijay Mallya speaks during a news conference about the new Kingfisher Airlines service between London and Bangalore in southern India, in London September 4, 2008. Photo: REUTERS
Former Kingfisher Airlines employees have said their main concern is the recovery of their unpaid salaries and extradition of industrialist Vijay Mallya, who was arrested by Scotland Yard in London today.
"Our main concern is that the government should get him (Mallya) to India and we should get our dues," former Kingfisher Airlines pilot Rahul Bhasin said in his reaction to Mallya's arrest.
Mallya was today arrested in London by Scotland Yard on India's request for his extradition on fraud charges.
The 61-year-old liquor baron, wanted here for defaulting in payment of bank loans to the tune of over Rs 9,000 crore, was arrested after he appeared at a central London police station this morning.
"We appreciate the government's efforts. They have done something, finally," Bhasin said.
Mallya appeared at Westminster Magistrates' Court in London and was seen walking out with his legal team a few hours later after being granted bail.
Anirudha Ballala, another former Kingfisher Airlines pilot, said the law is taking its course.
"Mallya is perhaps paying for the 'karmas' that he has done by not paying to employees," he added.
Significantly, Ballala along with other employees had written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi in March last year, seeking his intervention in safeguarding the interest of the airline's erstwhile staffers. The employees had written to the Prime Minister after Mallya had sneaked out of the country.
According to an open letter written by the former women employees of the erstwhile airline last year, Mallya owes Rs 300 crore as salaries dues to over 3,000 employees.
"The government is only focussed on its dues. We don't have any hope other than the government, it is our last hope," Bhasin said, adding that he expects the government to do all it can do to recover employees' dues as well.
Ballala said while he has no personal enmity with his former employer, "but by leaving his employees in the lurch was not a good thing. Not looking after his employees and their families and leaving them at the mercy of Almighty has perhaps gone against him."
Hoping for an early extradition of Mallya from the UK, Ballala said, "If the government can get him arrested, it can bring him back as well."
India had given a formal extradition request for Mallya as per the Extradition Treaty between India and the UK through a note verbale on February 8.
While handing over the request, India had asserted that it has a "legitimate" case against Mallya and maintained that if an extradition request is honoured, it would show British "sensitivity towards our concerns."
"I thank this government for taking steps to bring him back to the country," Ballala added.
A Delhi court had last week issued an open ended non- bailable warrant against Mallya in a case of allegedly evading summons in a Foreign Exchange Regulation Act (FERA) violation case.
In January this year, the Debt Recovery Tribunal ordered a consortium of lenders to start the process of recovering the loans.
Around the same time, a CBI court too had issued a non- bailable warrant against Mallya in the Rs 720-crore IDBI Bank loan default case.