Following his confrontation with Arnab Goswami on a flight, comedian Kunal Kamra has claimed he sent the Republic TV anchor a text message inviting him to “have a civil discourse.” Kamra posted a screenshot of the message on Twitter that read: “Mr Goswami, this is my number you can reach out to me whenever you think you want to have a civil debate on what is the idea of nation and who’s a nationalist... all my resentment towards you is my past.”
“I’m a follower of Buddha & Mahavira and I want to extend you an olive branch to have a civil discourse... that’s all I asked for in the first place. If you were less of a p***k this (sic) we wouldn’t have gotten here, anyway this is Kunal Kamra & I’m not sorry,” he added.
Earlier, Kamra had also posted a photo of himself standing outside the Republic TV office holding a placard that said, “Arnab I just wanted to say I am not sorry.”
Kamra Pays Tribute to Rohith Vemula in Video
On 29 January, Kunal Kamra tweeted a video that explained his “side of the story.” He wrote, “This video explains my side of the story, created by my best half @thepeeinghuman The emotions did off course get the better of me. But if I didn’t emote, I’d never be able to forgive myself...”
The video begins with footage of Arnab Goswami introducing us to one of his reporters. We then see the reporter heckling Tejashwi Yadav on a flight. The rest of the 11-minute long video is a mashup of Arnab Goswami in which Kamra highlights the changes in Arnab’s reportage of Rohith Vemula’s death over the last few years. Through the video, Kunal Kamra questions Arnab Goswami’s journalistic integrity to make his point.
Take a look:
Kamra’s Conduct Not ‘Level 1’ Unruly: IndiGo Pilot Speaks Up
The IndiGo pilot who flew Kunal Kamra and Arnab Goswami has said that Kamra’s behavior on the flight did not deserve the kind of response it got from the airline, reported PTI. The pilot said, “Kamra's behaviour, while unsavoury, was not qualifying of a level 1 unruly passenger.”
The pilot further added that incidents worse that Kamra’s have previously occured on the flight and not “deemed unruly”. He said, “Pilots can attest to incidents which were similar and/or worse in nature that were not deemed unruly.”
GoAir is the fourth airline to suspend comedian Kunal Kamra from using its services “till further notice”. Following a confrontation with Arnab Goswami, which went viral on social media, IndiGo suspended Kamra for six months. This was followed by Air India which barred him “until further notice” to “discourage such behaviour”, as well as SpiceJet which decided to suspend Kunal Kamra on from flying with the airline till further notice on 29 January.
Banned For Exercising Right to Free Speech: Kamra Reacts
After IndiGo, Air India and SpiceJet decided to suspend Kunal Kamra on from flying with the airlines, the comedian issued a statement saying “it’s not shocking” that he has been banned for “exercising my right to free speech”.
“It’s not shocking at all to me that for exercising my right to speech, which falls under article 19 of our constitution, 3 airlines have given me a temporary ban from flying,” he wrote. He clarified that he was not disruptive and complied with the cabin crew.
“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, then both of us are criminals,” he added.
Kamra also questioned why Air India and SpiceJet had “jumped the gun” and banned him despite the fact the incident didn’t occur on either airline.
Following SpiceJet’s ban, this is what Kunal Kamra had to say:
Kunal Kamra’s Second Encounter With Arnab Goswami
Earlier today, Kunal had taken to Twitter to recount his experience flying with journalist Arnab Goswami again. He tweeted, “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 also took to Instagram to say that the Air India ban is “rubbish” as he took the flight back to Mumbai.
Airlines Suspend Kamra
On 28 January, after Kamra’s confrontation with journalist Arnab Goswami, IndiGo, in its tweet, had termed Kamra's conduct as 'unacceptable behaviour' and urged passengers "to refrain from indulging in personal slander whilst onboard".
Meanwhile, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri, who was tagged by IndiGo in the tweet along with the ministry's official handle, has urged other airlines to follow suit.
Incidentally, Kamra had responded to IndiGo’s move by taking a dig at the government’s bid to divest Air India.
Air India, too, tweeted saying that Kamra has been suspended.
Rohan Joshi, Anirban Dasgupta Extend Support
Stand-up comedians Rohan Joshi and Anirban Dasgupta extended their support to Kunal Kamra. Rohan Joshi told The Quint,
“I think there are some people who sit behind desks in studios and preach filth and bigotry in the name of journalism while never taking questions themselves. I completely support what Kamra did. How else do you fight a Nazi who won’t come out in public anywhere else?”Rohan Joshi, Stand-Up Comedian
The Quint also spoke with Anirban Dasgupta who said, “I am just happy that you did this, Kunal. What you did broke the internet, and I am happy that you did it with a man who is breaking the country.”
‘Are You a Journalist or a Coward?’
Kamra, on Tuesday, posted a video on Twitter of him speaking to Goswami in a flight. In the video, he can be seen asking the journalist a number of questions. Kamra says that Arnab had called him mentally unstable when he first approached the journalist. Further, Kamra goes on to ask him if he’s a journalist or a ‘coward’.
Kamra had captioned the video, “I did this for my hero...I did it for Rohit,” referring to Dalit scholar Rohith Vemula, who killed himself in 2016.
Later, in a tweet, Kamra justified his stand saying he gave a "monologue" about what he felt about Goswami's journalism. He also said that he does not regret his behaviour.