Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, who has been upfront in criticising the government, was put on a 'No Fly List' by IndiGo airlines for six months following an encounter with news anchor Arnab Goswami. After IndiGo, Air India, GoAir and SpiceJet too banned Kamra from flying. And yet again Kamra is in the news after a wrong Kunal Kamra had to face the brunt of Air India's unanimous decision of cancelling his ticket.
On February 3, a man named Kunal Kamra, a resident of Boston, had booked a ticket for a Air India flight from Jaipur to Mumbai. However, his ticket was cancelled thanks to the airline's comedy of errors that happened when he reached the check-in counter.
Kamra was told that his PNR was cancelled as his name was blacklisted by the airline. He also faced problem to prove his identity as the security were not convinced with the copy of his Aadhaar card. He had to show them his American ID as well.
Boston's Kunal Kamra shares his ordeal
A shocked and confused Kamra, however, heaved a sigh of relief when the ground staff helped him clear his ticket after mistaking him for the comedian by the same name.
"I was told that my PNR was cancelled and when I asked them why, they said that my name had been blacklisted. I could understand why, but I did not understand why particularly I was blacklisted. I knew why the other Kunal Kamra was blacklisted," Kunal Kamra told India Today.
He continued, "The Air India people were very helpful, luckily, I had ample time before the flight, so everything was sorted out. They were able to issue me another ticket but what was most annoying for me was that the burden of proof was on me. So I had to prove that I am not this person."
He further added, "I was not informed before my flight that my ticket was cancelled. I never received a proper explanation as to why MY ticket was cancelled. Basically, the only reason they cancelled my ticket is because my name is the exact same as that of another person. The problem with that is that if you were to cancel my ticket just based on my name, that is not acceptable because a lot of people might have the same name."
Comedian Kunal Kamra reacts, legal notice to IndiGo for six months ban
Reacting to the unpleasant experience of his namesake, comedian Kunal Kamra called it as "Collateral damage." Meanwhile, Kamra has sent a legal notice to IndiGo for banning him for six months and has called the decision "Illegal, high-handed and arbitrary."
The notice sent through Advocate Prashant Sivarajan of Lawmen and White calls for immediate revocation of the suspension.
During the flight, Kamra had approached Republic TV's Goswami and sought to question him on coverage of national affairs and the suicide of Rohith Vemula, in particular. Vemula was a Dalit activist and scholar at the Hyderabad University.
After the incident, IndiGo banned Kamra from flying.
Kamra has also sought an unconditional apology, to be published in all leading newspapers and broadcast by the electronic media and also on all social media platforms.
It has also demanded Rs 25,00,000 in damages by the airlines for causing Kamra mental pain and agony suffered as well as losses on account of cancellation of his scheduled shows and programmes in India as well as abroad.
It said the airline's action went against the DGCA norms on the issue.
Giving an account of the incident, Kamra's notice says, "On January 28, while flying on your aircraft Indigo 6E 5317 from Mumbai to Lucknow my client [in exercise of his right to freedom of speech and expression as enshrined in Article 19(1)(a) of the Constitution) sought to indulge in a conversation with the fellow passenger Arnab Goswami, and thereafter proceeded to critique the said individual's style of journalism, which was met with no response.".
At that time the seatbelt Signs were switched off, it said and added, shortly thereafter when the seatbelt signs came on, the stewardess asked Kamra to take his seat to which he duly complied.
After the takeoff, Kamra approached Goswami to which the news anchor replied that he was watching something and didn't want to indulge in any conversation. After this, Kamra started to make a video of himself and aggressively questioning Goswami. When requested by the stewardess, Kamra proceeded back to his seat, the notice said.
At no point, the notice says during Kamra's exchanges with Goswami was there any intervention by the cabin crew to the effect that such behaviour was unruly or disruptive or that Kamra was creating any nuisance whatsoever.
"At no point of time during the said exchanges between my client and Goswami was there any complaint by the fellow passengers that such behaviour was unruly, untoward or disruptive, much less posing any threat to flight safety. Even Goswami himself, towards whom my client's exchanges were directed, didn't make any complaint nor did he request the intervention of the cabin crew at any point of time," the notice read.
(With IANS Inputs)