All I want is to express solidarity with Vemula: Kamra

All I want is to express solidarity with Vemula, says stand-up comic Kunal Kamra

SpiceJet became the third airline which suspended Kamra from flying until further notice on Wednesday

On Tuesday, IndiGo had suspended Kamra from flying for a period of six months and Air India until further notice. (Credit: DH Photo)

Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra, banned by three airlines from flying for allegedly heckling TV journalist Arnab Goswami aboard a flight, on Wednesday said he just wanted to express solidarity with PhD scholar Rohith Vemula and at no point he was "unruly or disruptive".

He said the flying suspension was not "shocking" for him and explained why he allegedly heckled Goswami.

In a fresh statement, Kamra said the emotions got the better of him, but if he hadn't reacted -- triggered by the coverage of Vemula's death by Goswami in his TV shows -- he could not have forgiven himself.

Vemula, a scholar at the University of Hyderabad, committed suicide in January 2016 allegedly due to caste discrimination on the campus.

The comedian was suspended from flying by IndiGo and Air India on Tuesday after he allegedly heckled Goswami aboard a Mumbai-Lucknow plane of IndiGo and posted a video clip of the incident on his Twitter handle. In the video clip, Kamra is seen making a reference to the death of Vemula.

On Wednesday, Kamra took to Twitter and shared the link of an 11-minute video, a compilation of multiple past incidents, and wrote, "The emotions did of course get the better of me (referring to the Goswami episode), but if I didnt emote, Id never be able to forgive myself."

Kamra uploaded the video on his YouTube channel which shows a Republic TV reporter confronting RJD leader Tejashwi Yadav on a flight, despite repeated requests from him and the cabin crew to stop the camera and take seat.

Another clip shows a Republic TV reporter seeking a comment from Congress leader Mani Shankar Aiyar inside a restaurant where he is having his lunch.

It also features a journalist shouting at a Republic TV reporter for allegedly heckling.

The video highlights Goswami using words like "cowards, lunatic, lapdog", calling Vemula's death as a "personal tragedy" of an individual used as a "political mileage".

It further shows dichotomy in Goswami's coverage of Vemula's death, between 2016 and 2017, on his shows. The video ends with the reading of Vemula's last letter before his suicide, sourced from filmmaker Anand Patwardhan's documentary, "Reason/Vivek".

"I apologise in advance if this video comes across as an extension of my saviour complex. All I want to do is express my solidarity and love for my hero Rohith Vemula," Kamra wrote at the end of the video.

On Tuesday, IndiGo had suspended Kamra from flying for a period of six months and Air India until further notice.

Shortly after SpiceJet suspended him from flying with the airline, the comedian posted a sarcastic tweet: "Modiji can I walk yaan uspe bhi baan hai (Modi ji can I walk or is there a ban even on that)" and added crying emojis after his tweet.

In a statement issued on Twitter, Kamra said at no point did he not follow the orders of the cabin crew in the (Mumbai-Lucknow) flight.

"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. Fact of the matter is that at no point was I disruptive and at no point did I not follow the orders of the cabin crew or the captain," he tweeted.

"At no point did I endanger the safety of any passenger on board, the only damage I caused was to the inflated ego to the 'journalist' Arnab Goswami," he stated.

Kamra said he had not travelled with SpiceJet or Air India in this event and there is no "pattern of him being unruly".

"This was the first time something like this has happened, so why have they jumped the gun and banned me? I've travelled SpiceJet and Air India in the past. There have been no complaints against me ever, only selfies and love has been shared by the crew," he tweeted.

The comedian said as per his "limited knowledge" no formal complaint was made by the crew, Goswami or anyone else on board the (Mumbai-Lucknow) 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 wrote.