Criticising the no-fly ban against stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra by four airlines, former Congress president and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi Thursday called it an “act of a coward leveraging his influence with the government to silence a critic”.
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. Hours later, Air India suspended him for his “unacceptable behaviour” based on Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri’s advisory. Go Air and SpiceJet followed suit and suspended Kamra until further notice on Wednesday.
Taking a jibe at Goswami, Gandhi said “those who use their “news” cameras as 24×7 tools of propaganda, should show some spine when the camera is turned on them.”
The ban imposed on #kunalkamra by 4 airlines is the act of a coward leveraging his influence with the Govt to silence a critic.
Those who use their “news” cameras as 24×7 tools of propaganda, should show some spine when the camera is turned on them. https://t.co/NNwVcq4ZOj
— Rahul Gandhi (@RahulGandhi) January 29, 2020
Following the temporary bans from four airlines, Kamra said it was “not shocking” that the airlines took action against him for exercising his “right to speech”. Kamra also questioned the suspension saying, as per his “limited knowledge” no formal complaint was made by the crew, Goswami or anyone else onboard the flight.
The DGCA, meanwhile, said the action of the four airlines, who have banned Kamra, is in complete consonance with its regulations. However, it is not clear under which DGCA regulation has IndiGo banned Kamra for six months. “This is to reiterate that the action taken by the airlines is in complete consonance with Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) Section-3, Series M Part VI on Handling of unruly passengers,” a DGCA statement said.
I did this for my hero…
I did it for Rohit pic.twitter.com/aMSdiTanHo
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) January 28, 2020
In a video shared on his social media account, Kamra can be heard mocking Goswami in the IndiGo flight. 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.
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.
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