New Delhi: A video of social media influencer Bobby Kataria smoking aboard a Dubai-New Delhi SpiceJet flight on 23 January has sparked outrage online. Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia also took note of the clip and said an investigation was on.
Investigating it. There will be no tolerance towards such hazardous behaviour: Civil Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia on the viral video of a man smoking inside a flight
— ANI (@ANI) August 11, 2022
In the video, Kataria — who has over 6.30 lakh followers on Instagram — is seen lying down on an aircraft seat and lighting a cigarette. He goes on to take a few puffs before the video ends.
Smoking inside the pressurised cabin of an aircraft poses serious risk of fire and is banned inside passenger aircraft in India.
Various Twitter users had earlier flagged the video to Scindia.
— Nitish Bhardwaj (@Nitish_nicks) August 11, 2022
— Shivaji Dubey (@Shivaji_Dube) August 11, 2022
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security, meanwhile, told news agency ANI that action was taken against Kataria earlier.
“Balvinder Kataria travelled from Dubai to New Delhi on a SpiceJet flight. He landed in Delhi on 23.01.22. Video isn’t available on his Facebook/Instagram page. Action was taken by aviation security earlier,” said the Bureau of Civil Aviation Security.
The Bureau of Civil Aviation Security also confirmed that the clip was old and an FIR was filed against Kataria at the time.
In reference to the video, a Spicejet spokesperson told ThePrint, “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 said passenger and his co-passengers shot the video on the 21st row when the cabin crew were 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 January 24, 2022 through social media posts,” an official statement shared by the spokesperson read.
The airline also said that the matter was referred to an internal committee constituted according to the provisions of Civil Aviation Requirements (CAR) on handling of unruly passengers (not consisting any SpiceJet employee). The said passenger was put on a no flying list by the airline for 15 days in February 2022.
Kataria has defended himself for the act on his verified Instagram page. Accusing the media of trying to get better Television Rating Point (TRP) — which determines popularity of a show — at his expense, the Instagram influencer posted screenshots of news reports covering the incident.
“Only TRP is needed. Speak anything and keep politicians engaged,” Kataria wrote.
Kataria, a resident of Gurgaon, is reportedly a “known offender”. In July, he had uploaded a video of him drinking alcohol in the middle of a road in Dehradun. The Uttarakhand Police had then taken note of the clip and said action will be taken against Kataria.
Kataria gained popularity on TikTok first. After the app was banned in India, he started posting his videos on Instagram.