ET View: No-fly overkill over Kamra

Former home minister LK Advani’s most memorable comment is about the conduct of editors during the Emergency: they were asked to bend but they chose to crawl, he said. Airline managements today have done a sterling job of making those editors look a tad more vertebrate: they are doing their crawling in rarefied atmosphere 30,000 feet above mean sea level.

Stand-up comedian Kunal Kamra hassled TV anchor Arnab Goswami on an Indigo flight with persistent questions, despite Goswami’s stony silence and eyes focused on his phone from behind dark glasses. Indigo put Kamra on a no-fly list. Civil Aviation minister Puri advised other airlines to follow suit. Air India, Vistara and SpiceJet followed suit — if the minister had asked them to do likewise, they would have done likewise — no matter Kamra did not misbehave on their flights. Nor did they convene a meeting of their internal committees that are supposed to ponder over a complaint of unruly behaviour and decide whether to put the flier on a no-fly list. They presumed that if Kamra misbehaved on one flight, he would, on all other flights. They took upon themselves the holy duty of defending TV anchors’ right to not express themselves when they did not want to.

Kamra threatened no violence. He posed no risk to any passenger, unless asking accusative questions over and over again counts as risky behaviour.

Kamra’s behaviour was uncivil and wholly avoidable. But that did not call for the state to bid him banned from flights or for airlines to rush to do that bidding with all the enthusiasm of a puppy chasing after a stick it has been ordered to fetch.

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