MP flags Ministry’s soft response to ruckus on Kangana’s flight

Congress lawmaker recalls 3 month ban on comedian for heckling anchor.

Congress MP Vivek Tankha on Tuesday said in Rajya Sabha that “selective punishment” had been meted out to comedian Kunal Kamra for “one conversation” on board a flight, but the media persons who created “turmoil” on a recent flight that actress Kangana Ranaut took were given just a warning.

Mr. Tankha was speaking during the discussion on the Aircraft (Amendment) Bill, 2020 that gives statutory powers to aviation regulators. He said if the institutions were not fair, the change in powers would not matter.

“You are giving them a statutory shape, but even without being statutory, they could have been fair and bipartisan,” he said.

The MP read out a tweet of Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Puri in January advising other airlines to impose restrictions on Mr. Kamra, who had been banned by Indigo from flying for six months for heckling television anchor Arnab Goswami on a flight. The ban was later reduced to three months. Mr. Tankha contrasted this with the response to unruly behaviour by mediapersons on a flight with Ms. Ranaut from Chandigarh to Mumbai, saying only a warning was issued.

“For a conversation that one man did, you imposed a selective punishment of three months and the turmoil the media creates, you just give them a warning! It doesn’t matter if your institutions are statutory or non-statutory. If you are not fair, how would the ratings go up,” he asked, referring to India’s standing on air safety.

While Mr. Puri did not address the examples cited, in his response, he said India’s average of accidents per million flights was 2.8 in comparison to the global average of 3.06 in 2014 when the Modi government came to power. “In 2019, the global figure is 3.02, the Indian is 0.82,” he said.

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