Dubai: A woman named Lois Sophia who was earlier arrested and sentenced to 15 days in jail for raising slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), was granted bail on Tuesday.
Many people had taken to social media yesterday, to condemn her arrest. Some are referring to India’s central government as “fascist”, with hashtags such as #FacistBJPDownDown.
Sophia was arrested after she raised these slogans on a flight going from the Indian city of Chennai to Tuticorin. BJP state president, Tamilisai Soundararajan was also travelling on the same flight.
Upon landing at the Tuticorin airport, Soundararajan and Sophia had an argument and the leader lodged a complaint with the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the airline concerned.
Consequently, tweeps used hashtag #ReleaseSophia to support Sophia who is reportedly a student and a writer. The term “Fascist Regime” also trended in Tamil.
Tweep @KhushbooTweets posted: “Student arrested after Tamil Nadu BJP chief complains she said ‘fascist BJP govt’. And....Tamil Nadu BJP chief proved that the student was absolutely right. If it’s not fascism then what is this?”
On the same sentiment, Twitter user @SunandaSSinha wrote: “So, according to @DrTamilisaiBJP shouting slogan and using the word ‘fascist’, makes someone a #terrorist! Thanks for exposing the real face of #HinduFascism, ma’am, you only sparked a massive public outrage.”
Discussing freedom of speech, a large number of Twitter users quoted a tweet Indian Prime Minister and BJP member Narendra Modi @PMOIndia had posted earlier this year: “I want this Government to be criticised. Criticism makes democracy strong: PM @narendramodi”
Sharing the tweet, user Amarjeet Rathore @vistadreamz tweeted: “A student and young girl #Sophia from Tamilnadu shouts “Fascist BJP down down” at #TuticorinAirport and BJP takes it so seriously to prove whatever she shouted is right by jailing her for 15 days, by the way, my dear PM said criticise my govt to make democracy strong.”
A student and young girl #Sophia from Tamilnadu shouts "Fascist BJP down down" at #Tuticorinairport and BJP takes it so seriously to prove whatever she shouted is right by JAILING her for 15 days, BTW my dear PM said criticise my govt to make democracy strong pic.twitter.com/ZIelAhlGwP— Amarjeet Rathore (@vistadreamz) September 4, 2018
Another user @Emanthavan replied to the same tweet, requesting Modi to take a look into the issue: “@PMOIndia a girl called #Sophia did that in Tuticorin and she jailed for 15 days can u please look [at] this.”
Whereas, tweep Shabbir Ahmed @Ahmedshabbir20 expressed concern about the police’s priorities: “#Tuticorin police has not lodged an FIR against police personnel who killed 13 people during Anti-Sterlite protest.
But quickly sends a student to jail for shouting #FacistBJPDownDown. Tamil Nadu state police is setting new standards in policing.”
BJP members were quick to condemn Sophia’s act.
Party member Vinoj Selvam @VinojBJP tweeted: “The lady who happened to be the co-passenger of our leader should have thought before doing this. If she did have issues with our party, she should have raised her voice at the right forum and not at places like these…”
Soundararajan has repeated claimed that Sophia is backed by groups and has a specific “agenda”.
Using her handle @DrTamilisaiBJP, the politician took to Twitter and wrote: “When I asked her, she replied it is her freedom of speech. I said it is not correct to shout inside aircraft/airport we will go outside to talk it out. For me her behavior is unruly not an ordinary co-passenger? Let police investigate her intent?”
When i asked her she replied it is her freedom of speech.i said it is not correct to shout inside airgraft/airport we will go outside to talk it out.for me her behavior is unruly not an ordinary copassenger?let police investigate her intent?— Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan (@DrTamilisaiBJP) September 3, 2018
According to Indian English-language daily, The Times of India, Sophia’s father has lodged a complaint against Soundararajan and a few other party members who were accompanying her and police have said that they are investigating both complaints.