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Politics

Banned by Four Domestic Airlines, Kunal Kamra Hops on to a Vistara Flight

The comedian was put on a no-fly list by four airlines following an incident this past week with Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami on an IndiGo flight.

New Delhi: Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, who has been put on no-fly list by four airlines this past week following an incident on an IndiGo flight with Republic TV editor Arnab Goswami, flew in a Vistara flight on February 1.

Kamra flew the UK 994 flight between Mumbai and Delhi at 10.25 am. Vistara refused to ground him without an inquiry.

Though in 2017, the Ministry for Civil Aviation had revised rules mandating airlines to set up an internal committee to look into onboard unruly behaviour by passengers after it is reported by the captain of that particular flight, IndiGo reportedly chose to flout the rules.

Minutes after the airline announced its decision on Twitter and tagged the official handles of Union minister for civil aviation Hardeep Puri and his ministry, the BJP central minister tweeted asking other airlines to follow suit.

In tandem, Air India, GoAir and SpiceJet made similar announcements. However, Vistara and Air Asia issued statements saying they wouldn’t ground the comedian without conducting an inquiry – as per the rules of the ministry.

Later, in a letter to the administration, the IndiGo pilot who was in command of the flight the incident with Goswami took place, questioned the ban and said that he was “disheartened” to learn the carrier had done so without consulting him first. He categorically stated that he didn’t believe Kamra had indulged in unruly verbal behaviour as mentioned in the Level 1 category and said that the comedian had fully complied with the crew’s order to return to his seat.

Interestingly, IndiGo has put Kamra on its no-fly list for six months – a punishment to be meted out to a passenger for committing Level 2 or physical abuse on board despite the fact that the pilot has officially said that Kamra didn’t even commit a Level 1 crime.

Also read: IndiGo Pilot Questions Ban on Kunal Kamra, Says Incident With Arnab ‘Not Reportable’

On the morning of February 1, Kamra took the Mumbai-Delhi flight at the last minute and sat in the first row in economy. According to a fellow passenger The Wire spoke to, some passengers who recognised him, “gave him knowing smiles. At the end of the flight, a woman passenger was seen walking up to him and congratulating him for filing a defamation case against IndiGo on February 1 seeking an apology, lifting of the ban and Rs 25 lakh in compensation for curtailing his personal freedom.”

The passenger said, “Kamra smiled at her and said ‘thank you, madam’.”

Kamra took to Twitter to post a photo of himself at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport.