A sedition complaint has been filed in a magistrate’s court in Karnataka’s Kodagu district against actor-politician Divya Spandana aka Ramya for saying that “Pakistan is not hell, people there are like us”.
Ramya, a former Congress MP from Mandya, had made the comment after returning from Pakistan, where she had gone for the SAARC Young Parliamentarians Conference.
She also came under attack from the BJP in Karnataka, which took her remarks as a retort to Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who recently said that “going to Pakistan is the same as going to hell”.
On Sunday, state BJP president Prahlad Joshi said, “The Congress party has been supporting anti-nationals for many years. They supported Yakub Memon and Afzal Guru, too. Ramya can go to Pakistan with her beloved leaders Rahul Gandhi and Digvijaya Singh.”
BJP state general secretary and legislator C T Ravi tweeted, “Those who believe that Pakistan is actually heaven should take next available flight to be warmly welcome by Terrorists, Rapists & Mullahs.”
The sedition complaint against the Kannada actor has been filed before the Junior Magistrate First Class (JMFC) of Somwarpet. Advocate Katnamane Vittal Gowda, president of a local organisation called Praja Ranga, has filed the complaint, which will be taken up by the magistrate on August 27.
In his complaint to the JMFC on Monday, Gowda alleged that “Ramya had insulted Indian patriots by praising Pakistan”.
“She is an influential person, being a leading actress and also a leader in the ruling Congress party in the state. I don’t want the matter probed by the police. I have requested a probe by the judiciary,” Gowda said.
The complainant sought registration of a case against Ramya under provisions of IPC sections 124 A (sedition) and 334 (voluntarily causing hurt on provocation).
But Ramya refused to back down. “I could easily say sorry but I need to stand by my statement,” she said.
She also tweeted: “Mohan Bhagwatji of the RSS says that Pakistan is India’s brother :) & @narendramodi famous visit to pak we all know.”
“The reason I had provoked the ire of self-proclaimed ‘nationalists’ in saffron was that I had disagreed with Defence Minister Parrikar’s pronouncement that going to Pakistan is akin to a visit to hell. I had just returned from a visit to Islamabad and can safely report that what I found was not hell but a country that is home to people just like us, who happen, sadly, to be ruled by a regime that does not inspire confidence,” she said in a statement Tuesday.
“It is my conviction that to serve my country… what is needed is the building of enduring bridges with our neighbours that will pave the way to a better world and a better future,” she said.
She also said that the sedition law is being frequently misused by self-styled nationalists, and that it needs to be repealed.
“What these self appointed ‘nationalists’ want is to drum up hysteria and ensure that we never find solutions to longstanding problems. Theirs is a patriotism that begins and ends at making noise on the street — after all, it is easy to gather a horde of bullies and demonstrate,” she said.
Meanwhile, the Congress said that if the same yardstick is applied to all, then cases of sedition should also be filed against Prime Minister Narendra Modi, former prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee and senior BJP leader L K Advani.
“The entire country wants better relationship between India and Pakistan. Who is standing in the way of better relations — Pakistan government, ISI and military establishment… If expressing a desire for having better relationship between India and Pakistan is sedition, then the first case of sedition should be filed against the PM,” Congress spokesperson Randeep Surjewala said.
Modi, he said, had gone to Pakistan to attend Pakistan PM Nawaz Sharif’s family function. “The second case should be filed against Advani, who had praised Jinnah in Pakistan, and the third case should be filed against Vajpayee, who had travelled to Pakistan on a bus with a message of peace,” he said.