Lois Sofia Gets Bail After ‘Anti-BJP’ Chant Before TN BJP Chief
The Tamil Nadu police on Monday, 3 September, arrested Lois Sofia, a student from Thoothukudi for allegedly shouting slogans against the Narendra Modi-led BJP government. The incident took place inside the Thoothukudi airport.
She was granted unconditional bail on Tuesday, 4 September. Her father was asked by Tamilselvi, the chief judge in a panel of three judges, that he assure the court that Sofia doesn’t cause such problems again.
The police had initially taken action based on a complaint by Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan, who was travelling in the same flight as Sofia, reported The News Minute.
Sofia had been sent to 15-day judicial custody and an FIR has been filed against her under Indian Penal Code Sections 290 (Punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for), 505 (Statements Conducing to Public Mischief) as well as Section 75(1) of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act, 1888.
Police kept on trying to confiscate Sofia’s passport. They asked her to leave her passport with the police, with no reason why. They’re trying to affect her studies. The police are simply working to please the ruling BJP government. The BJP tries to silence anyone who raises their voice. Last week, five activists were arrested as well and called “maoists”. This is the truth of life under the BJP government.Sofia’s Lawyer
What Happened Inside The Aircraft
Tamilisai claimed that Sofia, a student from the University of Montreal in Canada, shouted slogans against the BJP government inside the aircraft.
“When I am taking my bag, a customer shouts ‘BJP’s fascist government down, down.’ Is that freedom of speech?”
According to reports, the BJP president engaged in a verbal altercation with the student while the police personnel stationed at the airport tried to calm her down.
‘She Did Not Look Normal’
Speaking to reporters outside the Thoothukudi airport after the incident, Tamilisai had said:
Sofia’s advocate Athisiya Kumar said that the Tamil Nadu BJP president could have dealt with the issue in a better way. He added that Sofia is firm that she will not apologise to Tamilisai.
“She (Tamilisai) is a good doctor, a senior leader. Couldn't she have just spoken to her, instead of shaming her in public? She (Lois Sofia) is just a student. It's so common to do this in Canada. We don't have that freedom in India. Instead of advising her, she has insulted her. She also instigated her cadres who have been even more vulgar,” he told The News Minute.
BJP Chief Stands by Her Complaint
On Tuesday, Tamilisai Soundararajan said that she stands by her action of filing a complaint against Lois Sofia.
Speaking to reporters on 3 September, she said:
She was further quoted by The News Minute as saying:
Freedom of speech can be there. If you and I speak outside, it is fine. But inside an aircraft, in front of passengers, she shouldn’t talk like that, right? Again she shouted, saying that she has freedom of speech. The way she behaved, raising her fist, she was doing that inside the aircraft also saying ‘BJP fascism ozhiga’. I was just passing her, she stood up and shouted showing her hand like that.Tamilisai Soundararajan
In another statement to CNN News18, Soundararajan said:
If a co-passenger raises a slogan inside a flight, if she has freedom of expression, but I also have the right to a peaceful flight. She is a student but she has responsibilities. She cannot waive away rules like that, just because she’s studying abroad. I believe I’m very correct in my behaviour. I am very correct in the complaint I lodged.
She had also tweeted against the support Sofia received by leaders in the state.
Kamal Haasan, TTV Dhinakaran in Sofia’s Support
Actor-politician Kamal Haasan tweeted in support of Lois Sofia.
“If raising your voice in public spaces is a crime, then all politicians should be put behind bars. If Sofia was put behind bars for dong the same, and had to be brought out on bail, then why are our politicians roaming scot-free? I say this keeping in mind the fact that I too am a politician,”he tweeted.
TTV Dhinakaran also condemned the arrest and said that Sofia was reflecting Tuticorin’s sentiments, CNN-News18 reported.
Stalin Repeats Slogan, Demands Immediate Release
DMK President MK Stalin condemned the arrest of Sofia and demanded that she be released immediately. He added that the arrest of Sofia was against freedom of speech.
“If the police were to arrest people who criticise the BJP government, how many lakhs of people will they arrest? I will also repeat it. BJP fascist government down, down,” he wrote on Twitter.
(With inputs from The News Minute)