Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri Wednesday defended the six-month flight ban imposed by four airlines on stand-up comic Kunal Kamra, saying an incident similar to this in a country like the US would have resulted in the passenger being “locked up’’ after the flight landed.
The minister also justified his own intervention into the incident — through a late-night tweet on Tuesday, hours after Kamra heckled journalist Arnab Goswami in a flight. Puri said that once IndiGo Airlines had announced the flight ban, he had to ensure a similar incident did not occur on other airlines.
He told The Indian Express, “This is not an issue of liberalism verses nationalism. It is about a zero tolerance for aberrant behaviour within the confines of an aircraft, where rights of admission are reserved. As Civil Aviation Minister, it was my duty to issue an advisory to other airlines via Twitter so that such crazy behaviour was not repeated.’’
Asked why he had not waited to read IndiGo’s internal crew report, or for an inquiry committee to be set up, Puri said there was no need to wait in this case as Kamra had himself put out a video and made facts clear. “Within an aircraft, rights of admission are reserved and it cannot be a free-for-all environment. The behaviour of the passenger [Kamra] was designed to provoke; let there be no argument about it. There is, and will be, a zero-tolerance norm.”
Puri also said that had a flight ban not been immediately imposed, it would have encouraged a repeat of such incidents. “Air safety is of paramount importance. It does not matter who the passenger was, or who was being heckled. If such an incident had taken place in the US, the passenger would have been locked up.”
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