Indian carrier IndiGo has banned a comedian for six months after he heckled a journalist onboard one of their flights.
What are the details?
According to the Economic Times, Indian notable character Kunal Kamra boarded an IndiGo flight when he saw journalist Arnab Goswami sitting onboard. Both Mr. Kamra and Mr. Goswami sit on different sides of the political spectrum, and Mr. Kamra saw an opportunity to approach Mr. Goswami for political discourse and debate.
However, Mr. Goswami, who did not want to be disturbed on his flight for this impromptu confrontation, declined and resumed sitting in his seat. This is where the two stories differ. Buckle in, because this story is about to get a lot more complex.
According to Mr. Kamra, that was the end of the matter. He returned to his assigned seat and continued with his flight. However, a video produced by Mr. Goswami shows a different story. It features Mr. Kamra berating him publically and calling him a coward
“Here I am asking a coward Arnab Goswami questions about his journalism,” Kamra is heard to say as reported by the Economic Times. Kamra is himself recording a video to his “viewers” and proclaims that Goswami isn’t ready to answer his questions.
Goswami did not react throughout the video and remained passive. It is believed after recording Kamra was asked to take his seat for takeoff.
You can watch the video here:
Arnab Goswami is sitting quietly and @kunalkamra88 starts a diatribe against him. @HardeepSPuri @MoCA_GoI please take note of the constant harassment. Kamra needs to be put on the No Fly List.@IndiGo6E your passengers are not safe. Your staff was missing when this happened. pic.twitter.com/L5dS7UtTUn
— Major Gaurav Arya (Retd) (@majorgauravarya) January 28, 2020
What happened next?
From here it isn’t clear if Goswami filed a complaint (the airline did not on his behalf) or how it reached the airline’s attention, but IndiGo proceeded to band Mr. Kamra for six months.
— IndiGo (@IndiGo6E) January 28, 2020
IndiGo did not cite a specific rule or regulation as a basis for the ban, only that the personal safety of a passenger was at risk.
The minister for civil aviation also weighed in on the debate.
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. https://t.co/UHKKZfdTVS
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 28, 2020
The minister recommended that other Indian airlines also consider Mr. Kamra as a flight risk, however at this time it is unknown if any other airlines have also banned him.
What has been the reaction?
Mr. Kamra was quick to issue a statement regarding the ban via Twitter.
He iterated that he came across Mr. Goswami onboard the aircraft (during a time that it was safe to move around the cabin) and attempted to have a ‘conversation’. Mr. Goswami had a ‘phone call’ and then called Mr. Kamra ‘ mentally unstable’ when he refused to answer any questions after being trapped in his seat. The interview was called off when the cabin crew required everyone to take their seats for takeoff.
*My Statement* pic.twitter.com/cxFcSCq0Jf
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) January 28, 2020
From here, Mr. Kamra returned to Mr. Goswami’s row and proceeded to ask him for an interview again. Mr. Goswami wanted to watch an interview on board the aircraft and ignored the request, and Mr. Kamra was asked back to his seat by the flight crew.
Mr. Kamra finishes his statement that it was not his intention to disturb any other guests and that apologized to all the passengers and crew, ‘apart from one’.
The general public has reacted with and against IndiGo for this action, with some suggesting that they did not go far enough and others boycotting the airline
Great Job. We must teach a lesson to behave responsibly in public palaces.
— captsgupta (@captsgupta) January 29, 2020
Okay. I hereby #BoycottIndigo for the rest of my life. There are plenty of decent airlines.
— Swati (@chessswati) January 28, 2020
Others mentioned previous examples where no one was punished.
Hello Mr. Puri,
Does this behavior also qualify as disturbing?
Or are your rules not applicable for media houses which are sold out to your government? pic.twitter.com/dzvRo7btj2
— Dhruv Rathee (@dhruv_rathee) January 28, 2020
Obviously, this is a very politically charged situation and we have attempted to keep most of it out. We remind readers that above all else the safety of passengers should be considered before political discourse. Whether or not the passenger was in danger is another question, and whether or not the ban was politically minded we will leave for other publications.
What do you think about this news? Let us know in the comments.