Kunal Kamra heckles Arnab Goswami on board IndiGo, put on no-fly list; A-I follows suit
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Kunal Kamra heckles Arnab Goswami on board IndiGo, put on no-fly list; A-I follows suit

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Kunal Kamra, who was heard mocking Arnab Goswami in the IndiGo flight in a video posted by him Tuesday on Twitter, claimed he returned to his seat immediately after the air hostess requested him, and caused no disturbance.

Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra was banned from flying for six months by India’s largest airline IndiGo for heckling television news anchor Arnab Goswami on the airline’s flight from Mumbai to Lucknow. State-owned Air India said it has also suspended Kamra from flying on any of its flights until further notice.

Other airlines are expected to follow suit after Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri said the government would advise them to impose similar restrictions on Kamra.

Kamra, who was heard mocking Goswami in the IndiGo flight in a video posted by him Tuesday on Twitter, claimed he returned to his seat immediately after the air hostess requested him, and caused no disturbance. In a statement, Kamra said he “politely asked” Goswami to have a conversation and later gave the news anchor “a monologue about what I felt about his journalism”. “The moment the stewardess asked 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,” he said.

Hours after he posted the video on Twitter, IndiGo said in a series of tweets: “@MoCA_GoI @HardeepSPuri 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. 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”.

Following IndiGo’s decision, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri also took to Twitter and said: “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”.

In 2017, the Ministry of Civil Aviation had issued rules to tackle on-board disruptive behaviour by passengers and established the ‘no-fly list’. As per the rules, the complaint of unruly behaviour needs to be filed by the pilot-in-command, and such complaints are to be probed by an internal committee to be set up by the airline. The committee will decide the matter within 30 days, and also specify the duration of ban. During the period of pendency of the enquiry, the rules empower the concerned airline to impose a ban on the passenger.

The rules define three categories of unruly behavior: Level 1 refers to behaviour that is verbally unruly, and calls for debarment upto three months; Level 2 indicates physical unruliness and can lead to the passenger being debarred from flying for upto six months and Level 3 indicates life-threatening behaviour where the debarment would be for a minimum of two years.