Social media influencer Bobby Kataria, facing a police case for smoking on a SpiceJet plane, has claimed it was a fake plane in which he lit a cigarette. However, his claim contradicts the airline’s statement confirming that the incident had occurred on one of its planes in January this year.
“The video in which I saw smoking was a fake plane and that was part of my recordings in Dubai. It is not allowed to take lighter on the plane,” said the social media influencer in his clarification, according to news agency ANI.
Mr Kataria, a resident of Gurgaon who has more than 6.30 lakh followers, was seen in a video lighting a cigarette and taking a few puffs while lying on the plane seat. The video was widely shared on social media and many users reported the video to Union Aviation Minister Jyotiraditya Scindia. The minister said yesterday that there will be “no tolerance for such dangerous behaviour”.
In a statement yesterday, a SpiceJet spokesperson said the matter had been thoroughly investigated in January and a complaint had been lodged with Gurgaon Police.
“The video, the investigation found, was taken on January 20, 2022 as passengers boarded flight SG 706, which was scheduled to fly from Dubai to Delhi,” the spokesman said.
“The named passenger and his fellow passengers captured the video in the 21st row as the cabin crew was completing the boarding procedure. None of the passengers or crew members were aware of the act. The matter came to the attention of the airline on 24 January 2022 through social media posts,” it reads.
The airline said the passenger was on a 15-day flight ban in February.
Mr Kataria took a swipe at the media yesterday for trying to get a better Television Rating Point – or TRP, which determines a show’s popularity – at his expense. “Only TRP is needed. Speak everything and keep politicians engaged,” he wrote in Hindi.
Smoking on a passenger plane is prohibited in India. In addition to being a nuisance to passengers, smoking in the pressurized cabin of an aircraft also poses a serious fire risk.
The Instagram influencer is also facing a police case for allegedly drinking liquor on a busy road in Uttarakhand.