'Banned by four airlines for exercising free speech'; Kunal Kamra questions flying restrictions by Air India, GoAir, SpiceJet over Arnab Goswami video

  • In a video clip posted by Kamra on Twitter, he can be heard demanding a reply from Goswami, asking him if he is a 'coward or a journalist or a nationalist'

  • Kamra said that no formal complaint had been made by Goswami or the the cabin crew of the Lucknow-bound IndiGo flight (6E5317)

  • Kamra also questioned the ban on him by SpiceJet and Air India airlines, in addition to IndiGo

Comedian Kunal Kamra, who has been temporarily banned by at least four airlines for allegedly "heckling" journalist Arnab Goswami on board an IndiGo flight on Tuesday, issued a statement clarifying that he hadn't been disruptive or disobeyed the instructions of the cabin crew "at any point".

In a video clip posted by Kamra on Twitter, he can be heard demanding a reply from Goswami, asking him if he is a "coward or a journalist or a nationalist". However, Goswami does not reply to Kamra. The comedian dedicated his action to Rohith Vemula, a Dalit PhD scholar at the University of Hyderabad, who killed himself in his hostel room on 17 January, 2016.

On Wednesday, Kamra said, "It's not shocking at all to me that for exercising my right to speech, which falls under Article 19 of our Constitution, airlines have given me a temporary ban from flying. Fact of the matter is that at no point was I disruptive and at no point did I not follow orders of the cabin crew or the captain. At no point did I endanger the safety of any passenger on board, the only damage I caused was to the inflated ego to the 'journalist' Arnab Goswami."

He also said that no formal complaint had been made by Goswami or the the cabin crew of the Lucknow-bound IndiGo flight (6E5317), adding that every time there was an intervention by a crew member, he "complied".

Kamra also questioned the ban on him by SpiceJet and Air India airlines, in addition to IndiGo. Later on Wednesday, the GoAir airline also banned the comedian "till further notice".

"Now let's forget IndiGo for a moment, I haven't even travelled by SpiceJet or Air India in this event and there's no pattern here of me being unruly. This was the first time something like this has happened, so why have they jumped the gun and banned me? I've travelled Spicejet and Air India in the past. There have been no complaints against me ever, only selfies and love has been shared by the crew," Kamra said.

"If expressing myself to an important public figure, who himself points a camera day in and day out, catching people off guard is a crime, then both of us are criminals," he added.

After IndiGo issued the six-month-long ban on Kamra, Union Minister of State for Civil Aviation, Hardeep Singh Puri also condemned his behaviour and advised other airlines to impose similar restrictions on the stand-up comedian. He said,"offensive behaviour designed to provoke and create disturbance inside an aircraft is absolutely unacceptable and endangers safety of air travellers".

In the video that went viral on social media, Goswami can be seen sitting in the plane and watching something on his laptop with his earphones plugged in, while Kamra is heard telling him, "Viewers want to know if Arnab today is a coward or a nationalist. Arnab, this is for national interest. I am part of the tukde-tukde narrative. You should deflate me. You should take the enemy of the states down. You should make sure that the country is in safe hands of Narendra Modi."

"You should fight against dynasts like Rahul Gandhi, who I support, on 10 Tughlaq Lane. Arnab, you should have a reply, Arnab. Arnab, are you a coward or are you a journalist? Are you a coward or are you a journalist or a nationalist? Who are you, Arnab? Who are you?" he can be heard saying in the video clip.

"You know, you do not deserve my politeness. This is not for you. This is for Rohith Vemula's mother whose caste you were discussing on your...show. I know this is not allowed. This is fine. It's fine if it is not allowed. I'd go to jail for this. But this is for Rohith's mother. And go...find time and read that 10-page suicide letter that Rohith wrote so that you have some emotion or some heart or you just become human. Do that. Do that you in your free time. You nationalist," Kamra is heard saying.

Later, Kamra in a statement explaining what happened onboard the IndiGo flight and said that he had apologised to all crew members, pilots, but expressed no remorse for what he said to Goswami. "I apologise to all passengers except one."

With inputs from agencies

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Updated Date: Jan 29, 2020 16:36:27 IST