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Ramya defends comments on Pakistan

A complaint has been filed against the actor-turned-politician for sedition by a Karnataka lawyer

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Kannada actor-turned-politician Ramya on Tuesday defended her comments praising the people of Pakistan, even as a private complaint was filed accusing her of sedition.

“BJP’s been slapping sedition charges against anybody and everybody. So I’m really not surprised... I just said that I disagree with [defence minister] Manohar Parikkar sir’s comment that Pakistan is hell. Pakistan is certainly not hell. They are very hospitable people. That’s all I said,” the former Congress member of parliament (MP) told India Today.

Responding to a question asked at a programme in her former constituency Mandya about her recent visit to Pakistan as part of a South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (Saarc) delegation of young lawmakers, Ramya had said that she doesn’t agree with Parikkar’s view that going to Pakistan is same as “going to hell”.

Following her comments, a complaint has been filed against her for sedition by a Karnataka lawyer named K. Vittal Gowda, who has also called for boycott of her movies.

Asked whether she would apologise for her comments, Ramya said: “No, not at all. You know I’m not a person who has an ego, I don’t mind apologising for whatever reasons, but in this particular instance, I don’t think I would apologise. I think everybody in this country is entitled to free speech, I think that’s how a democratic country should function.”

Accusing the Bharatiya Janata Party of hypocrisy, she said Prime Minister Narendra Modi had invited his Pakistan counterpart Nawaz Sharif for his oath-taking ceremony and later visited the neighbouring country himself.

A court at Somwarpet in Karnataka’s Kodagu district has admitted the complaint charging Ramya with sedition.

Admitting the complaint on Monday, judicial magistrate Shyam Prasad posted the case for hearing to August 27.

Gowda petitioned the court to direct police to book Ramya for sedition for “disturbing” peace in the state as she has insulted Indians by praising Pakistanis.

Defending Ramya, state Congress working president Dinesh Gundu Rao told reporters in Bengaluru that she was only sharing her experiences in Pakistan and did not say anything against Indians or India.

“She has not made any controversial statement but only shared her feelings and experiences of her visit to Pakistan in her personal capacity as a lawyer,” he said.