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Airline ban


Airlines issue bans on popular Indian comedian, Kunal Kamra, a following an inflight confrontation with Republic TV Editor, Arnab Goswami.

Following a confrontation aboard an Indigo Airlines flight, popular Indian comedian Kunal Kamra was slapped with a six-month ban by the Airline on grounds of ‘unacceptable conduct’. Following the move, three other airlines – Air India, Spice Jet and Go Air also issued similar bans on Kamra for his ‘misconduct’.

In a video shot and uploaded on Twitter by Kamra, Goswami is seen seated with his laptop, earphones plugged in and ignoring Kamra. Karma questions Goswami’s journalism, calling him a coward and says,“This is in national interest; I am a part of the tukde-tukde (in pieces) narrative and you should deflate me” in reference to the catchphrase ‘tukde-tukde gang’ popularised by Goswami and often used to label individuals questioning the government or digressing from him in opinion. Kamra also says, “This is not for you, this is for Rohith Vemula’s mother” and uploaded the video on Twitter with the caption “I did this for my hero… I did it for Rohit” in reference to Rohit Vemula, a PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad. Rohit Vemula took his own life following a lengthy controversy during which his University had stopped paying his stipend, and he had faced suspension after a complaint by the local unit of the Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP), the student wing of the Bhartiya Janata Party (BJP).

In a previous Times Now Newshour discussion, Goswami had said “The pressure was put by the politicians, at least have the courage to admit it. A Member of Parliament (MP) is not the local bully” demanding that responsibility be taken for Rohit’s demise. He apparently changed tune later on his channel Republic TV, saying “The tukde-tukde brigade has done everything possible to exploit this young man’s death” and alleged that Congress had paid large sums of money to Rohit Vemula’s mother and ran expensive social media to politicise the tragedy. In his video, Kamra also mentions that Goswami used his ‘show’ to discuss Rohit’s caste and that Goswami should read the suicide note left by Rohit in order to have some humanity.

In the aftermath of the debacle, some have hailed Kamra as a hero for calling out Goswami’s hypocrisy while some believe that what he did amounts to harassment. Kamra later said that his emotions got the better of him, but that he had to confront Goswami and was not apologetic. The pilot in command of the flight, Captain Rahul Mateti said he was not consulted and that Kamra’s behaviour while unsavoury, did not amount to a ban. Some passengers held placards in support of Kamra on an Indigo flight while Member of Parliament, Dr Shashi Tharoor tweeted his support for Kamra saying it was time someone gave Goswami a taste of his own medicine.

Many pointed out that a Republic TV reporter had heckled Rashtriya Janata Dal (RJD) politician Tejashwi Yadav aboard a flight in a similar way and despite ignoring warnings from the crew, faced no consequences. There also stands the case of Shiv Sena MP Ravindra Gaikwad repeatedly hitting an Air India employee on not being given a business class seat as well as BJP MP Pragya Singh Thakur causing a delay in a Spice Jet flight after refusing to shift to a seat with less legroom. Arun Kumar, the Director-General of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) called the ban a clear violation of rules and stated, following a verbal confrontation, a temporary ban of 30 days was to be imposed on the passenger and an internal enquiry was to be conducted into the incident, headed by a retired judge. With the bans being examined for their validity and ranging opinions, it remains to be seen what the final outcome will be but in the meantime, Kamra has stood his ground and sought compensation from Indigo.

Feature Image Credits: The News Minute

Tashi Dorjay Sherpa

[email protected]