Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra’s confrontation with his bête noire – Republic TV’s editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami – both online and offline now, has cost him dear, at least when it comes to the convenience of flying.
A day after a video put up by the comedian on Twitter, showing him asking an uncompliant Goswami if he was a “coward” in a Lucknow-bound Indigo flight went viral on Tuesday (January 28), four airlines have blacklisted Kamra from their services.
GoAir was the last to suspend Kamra from its flying list after IndiGo, Air India and SpiceJet issued similar notifications on Wednesday (January 29).
Also read: Arnab heckling incident: After IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet suspends Kunal
Responding to IndiGo’s tweet about Kamra’s suspension for six months, Union Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, tweeted that other airlines have been advised to impose similar restrictions.
“Offensive behaviour designed to provoke and 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,” Puri tweeted.
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. https://t.co/UHKKZfdTVS
— Hardeep Singh Puri (@HardeepSPuri) January 28, 2020
An AirAsia India official told PTI that the airline is waiting for the aviation regulator DGCA to issue a formal notice, and after then it will take action against Kamra.
Face off with Arnab
Social media went berserk after Kamra on Tuesday tweeted a video of him accosting Goswami on a Lucknow bound flight.
Captioning the tweet as ‘I did this for my hero… I did it for Rohit (Vemula)’ Kamra in the video asks Goswami if he was being a “coward” by not answering his questions.
I did this for my hero…
I did it for Rohit pic.twitter.com/aMSdiTanHo
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) January 28, 2020
“Here I am asking coward Arnab Goswami a question about his journalism and he is doing exactly what I expected him to do. He is being a coward,” Kamra says while the camera shows Goswami who wears shades meditating on his laptop screen in a visible attempt to evade questions.
While still keeping the camera on Goswami, Kamra tells him that he doesn’t deserve a polite conversation as when approached politely he had called Kamra “mentally unstable”.
“First he told me I’m mentally unstable and now he says ‘I’m watching something’. He is not ready to answer my questions viewers… I wanted to have a polite conversation but you don’t deserve it,” Kamra says.
Stating that he has no fear of the consequences Kamra criticises Goswami for raising the caste of Rohith Vemula at a recent show and asks him to read Vemula’s suicide letter before judging him.
The video instantly divided Twitter, with many criticising the comedian for overstepping his limits and infringing on the private space of a journalist, while others lauded him for calling out Goswami, whose own colleagues have resorted to similar tactics to seek views of celebrities like Shashi Tharoor on flights.
Tharoor himself tweeted that the incident only proved that it was high time Goswami got a taste of his own medicine.
The truth is that it was time someone gave him a taste of his own medicine. These are the words he regularly uses to berate his innocent victims, except he does so in a hectoring, bullying manner & at higher volume & pitch than @kunalkamra88 does in this video. https://t.co/e94B8WcEtj
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) January 28, 2020
Kamra, who has been critical of the government in his gigs, has extensively caricatured Goswami to drive the point home.
Issuing a statement on the flight bans on Twitter on Tuesday, Kamra said that his only fault was that he “inflated the ego of ‘journalist’ Arnab Goswami.”
“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,” the statement said.
*My Statement* pic.twitter.com/cxFcSCq0Jf
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) January 28, 2020
While he has individually responded to all the tweets of the four airlines that banned him, in another tweet, Kamra mockingly urged Vistara, to ban him as well to give him closure.
Arrey @airvistara kar hi do yaar, I won’t judge you, Main drive karke goa nikal ne ka plan bana hi raha hoon… thoda break bhi lena Banta hai…
— Kunal Kamra (@kunalkamra88) January 29, 2020