A 28-year-old woman studying in Canada was arrested Monday in Tuticorin and sent to judicial custody for 15 days after she shouted “fascist BJP government down, down” on board a flight in the presence of Tamil Nadu BJP president Tamilisai Soundararajan who filed a complaint.
Lois Sofia, on her way home from Canada, was with her parents who joined her at Chennai for the IndiGo flight to Tuticorin. The incident took place after the flight landed at the Tuticorin airport.
A senior police officer said Sofia was taken into custody after Tamilisai filed a complaint with the airport police.
E Athisayakumar, a lawyer appearing for Sofia, said she had been arrested and sent to judicial custody for 15 days. She was later taken to hospital following complaints of stomach ache.
Earlier, a police officer in Tuticorin said the case was being handled by the All Women Police Station at Tuticorin based on a complaint from Tamilisai. “There are IPC Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 290 (public nuisance) and Section 75 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act,” the officer said.
Sofia’s father Dr A A Sami, a retired government doctor, said the incident took place when the flight landed at Tuticorin.
“My wife Madhuri and I received our daughter at Chennai airport and we were flying from Chennai. After we landed at Tuticorin, she (Sofia) saw the BJP leader and said ‘fascist BJP government down, down’. She didn’t utter a word other than that. But when we reached the terminal, Tamilisai and some 10 men who received her at the airport surrounded us and bullied my daughter with abusive words. They issued death threats. Finally, the airport police came to our help and secured us in a room.”
“After this incident, Tamilisai filed a complaint. Later, we learnt from police that there was a complaint. They asked us to come to the police station, promising that we will get bail there itself. But there were calls from higher ups and now they are trying to put her in prison,” the 65-year-old said.
Late Monday, Dr Sami was struggling to get the police to register a complaint he had filed against Tamilisai and the BJP men.
Speaking to The Indian Express, Tamilisai said “the young and seemingly innocent girl” raised the slogan against the BJP government. “I was on Seat No. 3 and she was on Seat No. 8. When I was coming out after the flight landed, she saw me and suddenly shouted ‘down with fascist BJP government’. When I turned to her, she repeated it. Seeing a very young girl sitting with her parents, I thought I will ignore it. But she repeated it, again and again, when I was coming out of the aircraft. She was also passing some comments at me,” Tamilisai said.
Tamilisai said a person using the word ‘fascist’ cannot be an “innocent” person. “No innocent girl will use that word. I questioned her. She replied that she has the right to freedom of expression. She shouted that slogan and used the word ‘fascist’, raising her fist and all. I thought I shouldn’t ignore a terrorist, so I filed a petition,” she said.
I am on a flight with Tamilisai Soundarajan and really want to shout “மோடி-BJP-RSS இன் பாசிச ஆட்சி ஒழிக”. Will I be kicked off the flight?
— Lois (@Red_Pastures) September 3, 2018
Asked about the complaint against her men for threatening Sofia, Tamilisai said there were karyakartas who were waiting to receive her in the reception area. “As there was an argument, they also questioned her. I was upset over the way she blamed my government. At one point, she claimed that her slogan was against the BJP government, not me. But wasn’t she only targeting me when I was on board the flight? I argued with her, even police had to step in and pacify me. I told them I cannot ignore it if my government is questioned in such a way,” Tamilisai said.
“In the evening, I got reports that all those people who were behind the Sterlite protests (in Tuticorin) have come to support her at the police station. I also have information that she is connected to some groups in Canada,” Tamilisai said.
Sami said he wasn’t bothered by such remarks about his daughter. “When there is a hazardous industry polluting the land, people will oppose it. Let them call whatever names they want, I don’t bother about that. In the past, she had written articles about the Sterlite issue as she believes in writing. Writing is her hobby even if her research area is Mathematics and Physics,” he said.