Student arrested, sent to judicial custody for raising anti-BJP slogans
In a rather shocking incident, a 28-year-old woman was arrested and sent to 15 days of judicial custody after she raised anti-BJP slogans on a Chennai-Thoothukudi flight which incidentally had Tamil Nadu BJP chief Tamilisai Soundararajan on board. The woman, Lois Sofia, is a doctoral Physics student at the University of Montreal in Canada, and had come to Tamil Nadu on vacation. Here's more.
Both Sofia and Soundararajan were en route Thoothukudi when the incident happened. Soundararajan had come near Sofia to take her luggage when the 28-year-old shouted, "Down with the fascist BJP government." When the plane landed in Thoothukudi, an argument between the two ensued at the airport, and Sofia was then arrested by the police following a complaint from Soundararajan.
A co-passenger Louis Sophia in a flight with BJP TN president Tamilisai shouted "Fascist BJP government down Down" at Tuticorin airport while collecting baggage.— Nagarjun Dwarakanath (@nagarjund) September 3, 2018
Tamilisai entered in verbal tiff with the her and pax was detained by police. pic.twitter.com/6NUsl7lk4v
Police said that a case had been registered against Sofia under Sections 290 and 505(i)(b) of the IPC, and under Section 75 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act. Thoothukudi superintendent of police, Murali Rambha, told ToI that the police registered the case only after obtaining a legal opinion. Notably, in raising the slogans, Sofia might have also violated the Aircraft Rules, 1937.
Justifying the arrest, Soundararajan later told media that she felt that her "life was in danger." Raising questions about Sofia's background, Soundararajan said her body language and aggression indicated that she had the backing of "extremist organizations". The Deccan Chronicle reported that police suspected that Sofia, being a Dalit herself, might have acted to spark anti-BJP sentiments among Dalits in Tamil Nadu.
Sofia's narrative, however, was different. She claimed that she had a complete right to raise anti-BJP slogans as part of the freedom of expression guaranteed to her by the Indian Constitution. Meanwhile, Sofia's father, Sami, has come to her defense, and has filed a complaint against Soundararajan for threatening Sofia and her family. No action, however, has been taken yet. Investigations are on.
Sofia's Twitter activity reveals that she has, for a while, been a vocal critic of the Central government. She also happens to be a close kin of advocate Athisayakumar, who was a key figure in the anti-Sterlite protests about a month back. Sofia had earlier criticized the government for atrocities during the protest, and is also an advocate of Dalit rights and women's safety.