Mumbai: IndiGo Tuesday said it was “suspending” stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra from flying with it for six months, after he tweeted a video accosting and heckling journalist Arnab Goswami on board a flight operated by the airline.

“In light of the recent incident on board 6E 5317 from Mumbai to Lucknow, we wish to inform that we are suspending Mr. Kunal Kamra from flying with IndiGo for a period of six months, as his conduct onboard was unacceptable behaviour,” the airline tweeted without specifying details of the incident.

“Hereby, we wish to advise our passengers to refrain from indulging in personal slander whilst onboard, as this can potentially compromise the safety of fellow passengers,” it added.

IndiGo didn’t mention if there was a complaint against Kamra. Neither did it refer to the regulatory rule it followed for the six-month ban.

Aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri further 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,” he added.

The 1.51 minute video shows Goswami, the editor of news channel Republic TV, in sunglasses sitting inside the aircraft, his ears plugged with earphones, peering into his phone. Kamra’s voice is heard off camera. He repeatedly calls Goswami “a coward”. Kamra later admitted to shooting video mid-flight.

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“Here I am asking a coward Arnab Goswami questions about his journalism,” Kamra is heard as saying. In the video, Kamra addresses “viewers” and says Goswami isn’t ready to answer his questions. He identifies himself as part of the “tukde-tukde” narrative. The term caught on national consciousness after the JNU students agitation in 2016 and has often been used by politicians and Twitterati to describe the opposition and at other times, dissenters against the government’s moves.

“Are you a coward or are you a journalist?” Kamra repeatedly provokes Goswami in the video. He refers to the mother of Rohith Vemula, a Hyderabad university student who committed suicide in January 2016 after he was suspended for raising issues against the university as part of a student’s association.

Goswami doesn’t react throughout the length of the video.

Kamra is known for his blunt anti-government commentary in his shows. He campaigned for JNU student leader turned CPI candidate Kanhaiya Kumar in the last general elections in Begusarai, Bihar.

In a statement later on Twitter, he said he had “politely asked” Goswami for a “conversation”. He said he didn’t “regret it”.

Twitterati was polarised in their reactions to the incident, some saying 6 months is too short a time for Kamra’s offence and others praising him for the bravado.



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