After a video of a social media influencer and bodybuilder Bobby Kataria alias Balwant Kataria from Gurgaon lighting a cigarette inside a SpiceJet aircraft was shared by several people on social media, Union Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia has ordered an investigation into the matter.
“Investigating it. There will be no tolerance towards such hazardous behaviour,” Scindia tweeted Thursday.
In the video Kataria is seen lying down on the aircraft seat and lighting a cigarette and taking a couple of puffs, posing safety risks.
— Nitish Bhardwaj (@Nitish_nicks) August 11, 2022
Meanwhile, Kataria, who has 6.3 lakh followers on Instagram, has defended himself for the act, which according to him was shot in 2019 or 2020. He told reporters Thursday: “It is a dummy plane and part of my biopic. It was shot in 2019 or 2020…somewhere around February. It was shot in Dubai. People who are sitting in the dummy plane are also part of the shoot. The shooting for my biopic was started in 2019 and it is likely to be completed in 2024. I do not see the need to give any justification. The person who shared the video on social media could have reached out to me and I would have explained, but everyone wanted TRP [publicity]. I want to ask everyone, how can a lighter make its way into an airplane? It would be detected by a scanner. A cigarette still one can carry, but not a lighter.”
Video was shot on January, 2022: SpiceJet
SpiceJet Thursday issued a statement saying that the video was old and they have filed a complaint in the matter. The statement also said that Kataria had been put on the ‘no-flying’ list for a period of 15 days in February.
“The matter had been investigated thoroughly in January 2022 when the video was brought to our notice and a complaint had been filed by the airline with the Udyog Vihar police station in Gurugram. The video, the investigation had revealed, was shot on January 20, 2022 while the passengers were boarding flight SG 706 scheduled to operate from Dubai to Delhi. The said passenger and his co-passengers shot the video on the 21st row when the cabin crew was occupied with completing the on-boarding procedure. None of the passengers or crew was aware of the act. The matter came to the airline’s notice on 24th Jan ’22 through social media posts. The matter was referred to the Internal Committee constituted as per the provisions of Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) on the handling of unruly passengers (not consisting of any SpiceJet employee). The said passenger was put on a no-flying list by the airline for 15 days in February 2022,” Spice Jet said in the statement.
Gurugram police did not have the jurisdiction
The Gurugram police, meanwhile, said they had received the complaint but did not have jurisdiction over the matter.
“It has come to our notice that SpiceJet had filed a complaint with Udyog Vihar police station with reference to a video on social media of a passenger smoking onboard a SpiceJet aircraft in January 2022. The incident occurred during boarding as per Spice Jet authorities. The airport is not located in Gurugram and therefore does not lie under the jurisdiction of Gurugram Police. Therefore, no action is warranted by Gurugram police in the matter,” the police said.