Indian airlines ban comedian Kunal Kamra from flying following in-flight 'altercation' with Arnab Goswami

IndioGo, Air India, Jet Airways and Spice Jet have hit flying bans on the comic after a confrontation with the news presenter

Kunal Karma has been banned from flying on several Indian airlines after an altercation with news anchor Arnab Goswami. Supplied 
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Indian comedian Kunal Kamra is suspended from flying with IndiGo, Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet after confronting news presenter Arnab Goswami on an IndiGo flight this week.

Kamra, who has previously performed in Dubai, was flying from Mumbai to Lucknow when he berated fellow passenger and journalist Goswami.

Shortly after the flight landed, IndiGo announced it was banning Kamra from taking any flights with the airline for six months.

Civil aviation minister Hardeep Singh Puri tweeted that other airlines should follow suit.

Similar bans are now in force from Air India, Jet Airways and SpiceJet with the airlines implementing the move until "further notice".

In-flight argument

According to Kamra, who posted a statement about the incident on Facebook, he initially approached Goswami on board the flight and politely requested to speak with him.

The news anchor allegedly ignored him and called him mentally unstable.  

Footage of the incident, which Kamra filmed and posted on social media, shows Goswami ignoring Kamra, keeping his sunglasses on and wearing headphones.

In the video, Kamra repeatedly asks: "Are you a coward or a journalist?" and says, "The nation wants to know," in what appears to be an imitation of Goswami's interrogative interviewing technique.

When a crew member approaches Kamra, he admits that he knows his actions are not allowed saying: "I'll go to jail for this, it's fine."

IndiGo cites unacceptable conduct

IndiGo announced it was banning the comedian from flying with the airline citing unacceptable conduct and personal slander by Kamra as the basis for its decision.

The move sparked social media uproar with fans of the comedian disputing the airlines' decisions.

#BoycottIndigo and #IstandwithKunalKamra were trending on twitter.

Shashi Tharoor, member of parliament for Kerala's Thiruvananthapuram, tweeted to his seven million followers that it was good to see the news anchor getting "a taste of his own medicine".

Others on social media supported the decision, with several asking why the ban was only for a six-month period.

Some users called on other people to follow Kamra's example and ask Goswami for an interview whenever they meet him.

No regrets, says Kamra 

According to the comedian's statement on Facebook, after Goswami initially ignored his questions, he "did exactly what Republic TV journalists do to people in their private/public spaces, and I don't regret it".

The comedian said he was not sorry for questioning Goswami, but wrote that he had apologised to crew, pilots and all other passengers for any inconvenience caused during the flight.

"Let us all take a moment and fondly remember a smiling Rohith Vemula," added Kamra towards the end of his Facebook statement.

This refers to a former student at the University of Hyderabad who took his own life after educational authorities allegedly stopped paying his monthly stipend. The university denied this, but Vemula's death gained widespread media attention as a case of discrimination against some ethnic groups in India. Goswami allegedly led a debate questioning the caste of the Dalit student.

Opposing figures

This is not the first time that Kamra has been in trouble. The comic has faced cancelled gigs, eviction notices and hefty fines for his controversial humour. He has challenged the state and government via YouTube videos and allegedly received more than one death threat in the past.

Arnab Goswami, editor and majority owner of the news channel Republic TV. Getty Images

Goswami, who runs the Republic news network in India, is a popular but antagonising figure. He is known for his harsh treatment of guests and is often seen questioning panelists by shouting in their faces.