New Delhi, January 28
IndiGo on Tuesday suspended stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra from flying with it for six months after he allegedly heckled journalist Arnab Goswami aboard its Mumbai-Lucknow flight.
Air India also suspended Kamra from flying with it until further notice, the national carrier said in a statement.
Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri took notice of the incident and “advised” other airlines in India to impose similar restriction on Kamra, stating “offensive behaviour designed to provoke & create disturbance inside an aircraft is absolutely unacceptable & endangers safety of air travellers”.
Offensive behaviour designed to provoke & create disturbance inside an aircraft is absolutely unacceptable & endangers safety of air travellers.— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 28, 2020
We are left with no option but to advise other airlines to impose similar restrictions on the person concerned. https://t.co/UHKKZfdTVS
A senior Air India official also said Kamra will be banned from flying with the airline, but did not specify the duration.
Kamra allegedly heckled Goswami, the editor of Republic TV, on IndiGo’s Mumbai-Lucknow (6E5317) flight on Tuesday.
I did this for my hero...— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) January 28, 2020
I did it for Rohit pic.twitter.com/aMSdiTanHo
“In light of the recent incident on board 6E 5317 from Mumbai to Lucknow, we wish to inform that we are suspending Mr Kunal Kamra from flying with IndiGo for a period of six months, as his conduct onboard was unacceptable behaviour,” IndiGo said on Twitter on Tuesday evening.
“Hereby, we wish to advise our passengers to refrain from indulging in personal slander whilst onboard, as this can potentially compromise the safety of fellow passengers,” it added.
In a video clip posted by Kamra on Twitter, the stand-up comedian is seen asking Goswami if he is a “coward or a journalist”.
While Goswami can be seen sitting in the plane and watching something on his laptop with his earphones plugged in, Kamra is heard as telling him: “Viewers want to know if Arnab today is a coward or a nationalist. Arnab, this is for national interest. I am part of the tukde-tukde narrative. You should deflate me. You should take the enemy of the states down. You should make sure that the country is in safe hands of Narendra Modi.”
“You should fight against dynasts like Rahul Gandhi, who I support, on 10 Tughlaq Lane. Arnab, you should have a reply, Arnab. Arnab, are you a coward or are you a journalist? Are you a coward or are you a journalist or a nationalist? Who are you, Arnab? Who are you?” Kamra can be heard as saying in the video clip.
“You know, you do not deserve my politeness. This is not for you. This is for Rohith Vemula’s mother whose caste you were discussing on your...show. I know this is not allowed. This is fine. It’s fine if it is not allowed. I’d go to jail for this.
“But this is for Rohit’s mother. And go...find time and read that 10-page suicide letter that Rohit wrote so that you have some emotion or some heart or you just become human. Do that. Do that you in your free time. You nationalist.” Kamra can be heard as saying.
While IndiGo has barred Kamra from flying in its flights for a period of six months, other airlines have not stated if they will be doing the same.
Queries sent by PTI to other Indian airlines - AirAsia India, SpiceJet and GoAir - on whether they are taking similar action against Kamra remained unanswered.
A Vistara spokesperson told PTI, “Vistara stands firm with its zero-tolerance policy against any behaviour or act that compromises the safety, security and dignity of its customers and staff. We will follow due process.”
On IndiGo’s decision to suspend him for six months, Kamra said on Twitter, “Thank you IndiGo. A six month suspension is honestly very kind of you. Modiji might be suspending Air India forever.”
Rohith Vemula was a PhD scholar at University of Hyderabad. His suicide on the campus on January 17, 2016 sparked a wide outrage. Opposition parties had blamed Vemula’s alleged harassment by groups affiliated to the BJP and the RSS for his suicide, and had launched protests against the saffron party.
The BJP on its part had accused the Opposition of deceiving and exploiting the sentiments of Rohith Vemula’s mother for petty political gains. — PTI
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