Police in Tamil Nadu on Monday arrested a 25-year-old woman, identified as Sophia, after she shouted ‘down with fascist government, inside a flight in the presence of Tamil Nadu BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan.
Sophia, according to reports, is pursuing research in Canada, and was returning home. She was seated behind Soundararajan’s third row seat. Suddenly, she got up and shouted slogans against the BJP and the “fascist” government at the Centre, reported news agency IANS.
After the plane landed at Thoothukudi, the BJP leader got into a verbal spat with Sophia and even lodged an official complaint with the cops leading to the latter’s arrest.
Later justifying her action, Soundararajan told reporters Sophia’s ‘meancing’ behaviour had posed threat to her life. According to media reports, Sophia was booked on the charges of causing public nuisance and a breach of public peace under sections of the IPC and the Madras City Police Act, 1888 before being sent to 15-day judicial custody.
The development sent Twitter users into a frenzy as they launched a tirade against both the central and state governments. Such was the ferocity of the protest on Twitter that hashtags #ReleaseSophia and #FascistBJPGovernmentDown (in Tamil) trended nationally as top trends.
Tamil Nadu Congress leader Jothimani wrote, “#பாசிசபாஜக_ஆட்சிஒழிக ( Fascist BJP Govt down down) is trending number one. Dear BJP This is what happened if you touches a Tamilian. #ReleaseSophia.” User Nithya Palaniyappan tweeted, “If Sophia is being detained for just shouting a slogan ‘Fascist BJP Govt’, then isn’t what she shouted the truth? This action and arrest of hundreds of activists proves that it is a Fascist BJP Govt after all. #ReleaseSophia ”
Later a video appeared, where the cops were seen letting Sophia go calling her beheaviour immature. But the woman BJP leader was in no mood as she appeared determined to teach her a lesson. Sharing a video of the heated conversation at the airport, journalist Shabbir Ahmed wrote, “The cops are defending student Sophie saying she is immature and leave it. But BJP leader Tamilisai is so adamant that she wants them to take action.”
Don’t think shouting political slogans inside a flight needs to be defended or supported but sending student to jail for 15 days for shouting anti-BJP slogans not justified either? Louis Sophia shouted ‘Fascist BJP down down’ in presence of #TN #BJP leader @DrTamilisaiBJP @ndtv pic.twitter.com/w6t372tuQX
— Uma Sudhir (@umasudhir) September 3, 2018
The police action against Sophia is being termed as incredibly disproportionate and an attempt to brutally suppress free speech. This comes just a day after Prime Minister Narendra Modi said he wanted people to criticise his government. He had written, “I want this government to be criticised. Criticism makes democracy strong.”
Monday’s development clearly indicated that either the prime minister was not serious about his comments on free speech or his woman colleague in Tamil Nadu doesn’t take him seriously.