Amid the ongoing backlash received by the BJP government after arresting the human rights activists, calling it is an act of being undemocratic. It is believed that this is another case that exposes BJP’s autocratic leadership attitude in Tamil Nadu with the arrest of a college student for making a remark against the government. However, the motto of the publicity stunt of the student wasn’t brought into the limelight, in order to criticise the ruling government.
BJP spokesperson Shirish Boralkar stated, “The Indian constitution has granted freedom of speech and freedom of expression to citizens. But there are some codes of conduct where such slogans should not be given. Chanting slogans at the airport is a violation or breach of law regarding airport authority. The airport authority and police might have felt to take note of this incident that’s why Chennai Police had arrested the girl. We don’t have the government in Tamil Nadu so there is no question of autocratic functioning or any kind of influence.”
On Monday, the student named Lois Sofia from the University of Montreal, on a visit to her native place Tamil Nadu called the BJP government at the Centre “fascist” after which the BJP leader and the student got into a quarrel, once they arrived at the airport’s arrival lounge in Tuticorin, in the repercussions to it, she was booked under the section 75(1)(c) for impolite reply to public servant and 290 (public nuisance) of IPC. The 28-year-old allegedly shouted “down, down, fascist BJP, down, down” when she saw Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan, president of BJP’s Tamil Nadu unit, on the flight. She allegedly repeated her comments when she saw Tamilisai at the airport’s baggage collection point after the flight landed. Sophia and Tamilisai were seen quarrelling in a video shot in the airport. Police officials were seen trying to calm down Tamilisai in the video. Not only over the social media but even several politicians also came out in the support of Sofia raising questions that how many people will the government arrest if they raise voices against them!
Congress spokesperson and actress Khushbu Sundar commented, “The incident was very amateurish on the part of the BJP state leader to react in such a manner. It is quite obvious to have opposition against the ruling government. Ruling party should have a large heart where there are voices of criticism and people who speak against them. It is absolutely undemocratic. Where are we heading into the country where we cannot speak nor we cannot raise a voice? Not just only Sofia but many people are raising questions against the current government then will the government arrest everyone? ”
However, according to the reports, the BJP leader felt insecure and threatened and hence, lodged a complaint with the police, adding they should inquire if some outfit was behind the student’s action. Later, Lois was sent to 15 days of judicial custody with the airport police. On Tuesday, after her father accused the police of harassment, the research scholar student was granted bail.
Reacting on this situation AIADMK Rajya Sabha MP S. R. Balasubramanian expressed, “There was a verbal war between BJP President and activist. The activist had chanted slogans against the government. I don’t justify the arrest of Lois Sofia . If we cannot chant slogans against the BJP government, then we can’t do anything in this country. It is not morally correct to arrest the activist.”
Earlier, Afternoon Voice had reported after the arrest of five human right activists, without substantial evidences in the plot to assassinate the PM Modi was a diversionary tactic of the BJP government and how it later, took an outrage with the social media users claiming themselves to be Urban Naxals by supporting the activists. Nonetheless, on the same day, they were granted bail under the circumstances of house arrest. On Monday, the Bombay High Court pulled up Maharashtra Police for holding a press conference, elaborating on the evidence it claims to have, against activists arrested in connection with the Bhima Koregaon case. While hearing a petition, the court said how can the police hold a press conference when the case is sub judice.
NCP Rajya Sabha MP Vandana Chavan asserted, “These arrests are the heights of autocratic style of handling in the federal democracy. Especially, the arrest of Sofia was a shocking incident for our democracy. There are no such rules where we should give slogans and where not! It portrays the frustration of the common man against the government. This is nothing but government’s intolerance towards freedom of expression.”
All the political parties are vocal about promoting youth wing and students’ union across to voice for the societal development, on the contrary, experts believe that it would be wrong to always blame the government for its failure to encourage the opinion of the nation’s youth and suppressing the democracy. As it is said that the development is restricted in the nations where there is no place for people’s view.
Film producer and writer Dr. Swapna Patker commented, “Basically, everyone has a right to say whatever they want to say. But they should have the right platform to have freedom of speech and freedom of expression. Some people think that by chanting slogans in the public domain, they can achieve fame. If everyone decides to shout slogans in the public then it is not ethical. Secondly, it is not morally good to chant slogans against anyone. It is important to express one’s views on the proper channel. It is important to follow basic rules, IPC and Constitution. In this case, she disrupted services of Airline. There is a need to focus on teaching civic sense in our society. Before talking about freedom of speech we need to have knowledge of article 19. Otherwise, implying half knowledge is always hazardous.”