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New Delhi, January 28, 2020
Standup comedian Kunal Kamra was today suspended by IndiGo from flying on its flights for six months after he posted a video on Twitter in which he was seen heckling journalist Arnab Goswami while they were travelling on a flight from Mumbai to Lucknow.
"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," the airline said on its Twitter page.
"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," the airline said.
Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also took to Twitter to say, "Offensive behaviour designed to provoke & create disturbance inside an aircraft is absolutely unacceptable & endangers safety of air travellers."
"We are left with no option but to advise other airlines to impose similar restrictions on the person concerned," he said.
Later, national carrier Air India also announced that it was suspending Kamra from flying on its flights.
"In view of the incident onboard @IndiGo6E, Air India wishes to inform that conduct of Person concerned is unacceptable.With a view to discourage such behavior onboard flts, Mr Kunal Kamra is suspended from flying on any Air India flt until further notice," the airline said.
Kamra himself posted the video of his encounter with Goswami, the Editor-in-Chief and co-founder of Republic TV, in which he is first seen trying to engage him in a discussion and, after failing to get a response, then is heard him heckling for some time.
"I did this for my hero...I did it for Rohit," he said about the video, in a reference to Rohith Vemula, the research scholar at the University of Hyderabad, who committed suicide in his hostel room on January 17, 2016, allegedly because of harassment by university authorities. His death was seenn as a case of discrimination against Dalits.
Kamra also posted a statement on Twitter about the incident.
"Today I met Arnab Goswami in a flight to Lucknow (6E 5317), and politely asked him to have a conversation. At first, he pretended to be on a phone call. I waited for his so-called phone call to get over. Seat belt signs were off at this time. I gave him a monologue about what I felt about his 'journalism'. He refused to answer any questions, he called me 'mentally unstable'.
"The stewardess asked me to take my seat as the seat belt signs had just come on. Post take-off, when the seat belt signs were off again, I approached him again and asked him if I could have his attention. He said he is watching something, and he doesn't want to talk. So then I did exactly what Republic TV journalists do to people in their private/public spacess, and I don't regret it. I am not sorry for it.
"The moment the stewardess ased me to move, I went back to my seat in 20 seconds. I apologised to each crew member personally and to both the pilots, by staying back till the end, for any inconvenience that I might have caused during the flight.
"I don't think I did anything wrong/criminal. Don't let this be about my bravado. Let us all take a moment and fondly remember a smiling Rohith Vemula. I do apologise to every passenger except one," the statement added.