Zaira Wasim
Actress Zaira Wasim during "Behtar India award ceremony" in New Delhi IANS

The miscreant accused of molesting Indian actress Zaira Wasim, 17, mid-air has been arrested, according to latest reports. The 39-year-old resident of Mumbai city, identified as Vikas Sachdev, claimed that he didn't touch the victim with his feet intentionally, rather it was an accident for which he immediately apologized.

India Today reported that Vikas was returning to Mumbai after attending a funeral in the capital city of Delhi and was extremely tired. He further argued that he dozed off and that is when his feet accidentally touched Zaira's back.

Vikas's wife Divya, according to the media outlet said, "My husband was coming home from Delhi. His mamaji (maternal uncle) had passed away and he was not in the right frame of mind. He was feeling very low and asked for a blanket. He wanted to sleep. I am shocked at Zaira's allegation. The police have taken my husband into custody."

Zaira alleged she was molested mid-air by a middle-aged man, drawing strong reactions by women rights activists and politicians. The airline apologized and Mumbai Police, which registered an FIR, started investigating the matter.

The National Award winning Kashmiri actress, who shot to fame with her performance in biographical sports drama 'Dangal', complained about her ordeal on the flight on December 9, claiming that a man seated behind her moved his foot up and down her neck and back.

In a self-shot video for Instagram live chat, Zaira is also seen bursting into tears while describing the harrowing incident.

"I just landed, the whole irony of this that I yelled... and this is not done... this is not how you should be treated or made to feel. This is terrible.

"This is how they will take care of girls? No one will help us if we don't decide to help ourselves and that is the worst thing," she said, looking visibly disturbed.

Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti said she was appalled.

"Any harassment or crime against women should be dealt with swiftly and effectively. As a mother of two daughters, I am appalled at what happened with Zaira," Mufti tweeted and urged the authorities to take strict action.

Former Jammu and Kashmir Chief Minister Omar Abdullah said the passenger should be identified by Air Vistara and a case should be filed.

The Civil Aviation Ministry has sought a report on the incident while the National Commission for Women (NCW), as well as the Delhi and Maharashtra commissions for women, urged the actress to approach the police.

NCW chairperson Rekha Sharma, Swati Maliwal of the Delhi Commission for Women (DCW) and Maharashtra State Commission for Women (MSCW) Chairperson Vijaya Rahatkar, issued notices to authorities concerned to take due action. DCW has already sought answers from Vistara Airlines seeking details of the action taken by airlines.

Vistara Airlines apologized to Zaira and said it was carrying out a detailed investigation.

"We will support Wasim in every way required and also if she decides to report this matter to the police... We apologize for what Wasim experienced and we have zero tolerance for such behaviour," read a post on the Airlines' official Twitter page.

With inputs from IANS