On Tuesday, IndiGo, Air India, SpiceJet and GoAir banned stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra from flying with them. This came after he heckled journalist Arnab Goswami aboard an IndiGo flight.
Kamra however appears to be undeterred. On Wednesday he said that "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".
Kamra took to Twitter and said: "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 an passenger on board, the only damage I caused was to the inflated ego to the 'journalist' Arnab Goswani."
"To my limited knowledge no formal complaint has been made by the crew or Arnab or anyone else taking the flight. Whenever there was an intervention by any member of the crew I complied. 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, them both of us are criminals," Kamra further added.
Kamra also questioned SpiceJet and Air India's ban. "Now let's forget IndiGo for a moment, I haven't even travelled SpiceJet or Air India in this event and there's no pattern here of me being unruly."
Kamra's video and follow-up posts have left netizens divided. While some stressed upon the need to not encroach upon the personal space and liberties of others, many also claimed that Goswami 'deserved' the dressing down.
But while Kamra may have been grounded -- at least by some airlines -- the aviation gods do not seem to be smiling upon Goswami either. Earlier, on Wednesday morning, the two found themselves sharing yet another flight.
Kamra took to Twitter to say that he had met Arnab Goswami on his flight back from Lucknow, and the journalist (again) refused to talk to him. “FYI - Arnab Goswami was in my flight again this morning while returning from lucknow... I again asked him politely if he wants to have a honest discussion he with his verbal arrogant hand jester he asked me to move away & I did that,” he wrote.
Kamra was banned by IndiGo after he allegedly heckled Arnab Goswami aboard a Mumbai-Lucknow plane on Tuesday.
Following a post from the airline announcing that Kamra had been banned for six months, Union Minister for Civil Aviation, took to Twitter to criticise Kamra's "offensive behaviour designed to provoke & create disturbance inside an aircraft" and said that they were left with no option but to advise other airlines to impose similar restrictions on the person concerned. Soon, other airlines were taking this advice to heart.
As Kamra put it, he had been giving the journalist "a monologue about his journalism". "All he did was call me mentally unstable & after sometime I had no choice but to return to my seat," Kamra adds.
In a video of the aforementioned "monologue" that Kamra posted to Twitter, Goswami can be seen seen glued to his laptop, unresponsive to the former's heckling.
"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," Kamra can be heard telling him.
"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 asks.,
"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," he can be heard saying, even as Goswami ignores him.
"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 can be heard saying.