Social media influencer Bobby Kataria, facing a police case for smoking inside a SpiceJet aircraft, has claimed that it was a dummy aircraft in which he was seen lighting a cigarette. However, his claim contradicts the airline’s statement wherein it had confirmed the incident having taken place in one of its aircraft in January this year.
“The video in which I was seen smoking was a dummy plane and that was a part of my shooting in Dubai. Taking lighter inside the plane is not allowed,” said the social media influencer in his clarification, according to news agency ANI.
Mr Kataria, a Gurgaon resident who has over 6.30 lakh followers, was seen in a video lighting a cigarette and taking a couple of puffs while lying down on the aircraft seat. The video was widely shared on the social media and many users flagged it to Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia. The minister said yesterday that there will be “no tolerance towards such hazardous behaviour.”
In a statement yesterday, a SpiceJet spokesperson said the matter had been investigated thoroughly in January and a complaint had been filed with the Gurgaon Police.
“The video, the investigation had revealed, was shot on 20th January 2022 while passengers were boarding flight SG 706 scheduled to operate from Dubai to Delhi,” said the spokesperson.
“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,” it said.
The airline said the passenger was put on a no-flying list for 15 days in February.
Mr Kataria yesterday took a swipe at the media for trying to get better Television Rating Point – or TRP, which determines popularity of a show – on his expense. “Only TRP is needed. Speak anything and keep politicians engaged,” he wrote in Hindi.
Smoking inside a passenger aircraft is banned in India. Besides inconveniencing passengers, smoking inside an aircraft’s pressurised cabin also poses serious risk of fire.
The Instagram influencer also faces a police case for allegedly drinking liquor on a busy road in Uttarakhand.