Lois Sofia shouted “fascist BJP government down, down” at the airport in Tuticorin while she and Tamilisai Soundararajan, BJP’s Tamil Nadu chief, were waiting to collect their luggage after travelling together on a flight.
The BJP leader lost her cool and entered into an argument with Sofia. Sofia has been charged with causing public nuisance under section 290 of the IPC and for causing breach of public peace under section 75(1)(C) of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act, 1888.
Reacting to the incident, Soundararajan said: "A middle-aged lady on seeing me started raising anti-BJP slogans and even followed up to the arrival gate. Her appearance looked threatening, I feel some organisation is behind her."
#WATCH BJP Tamil Nadu President Tamilisai Soundararajan got into an argument with a co-passenger at Tuticorin airport. The passenger who has now been detained had allegedly raised 'Fascist BJP Govt down down' slogan #TamilNadu pic.twitter.com/TzfyQn3IOo— ANI (@ANI) 3 September 2018
BJP spokesperson Narayanan Tirupathi said Sofia had also raised the slogans on the flight but Soundararajan had stayed calm.
“After the flight landed at the Tuticorin airport, Soundararajan filed a complaint with the police. However, Sofia continued to raise slogans and hence there was an argument between them. A case should be registered against Sofia,” Tirupathi said.
DMK chief MK Stalin condemned the arrest of Sofia. In a tweet, he accused the state government termed it an act against freedom of speech and democracy.
"Sofia should be immediately released. You will have to arrest lakhs of people who raise slogans like this. I will also raise the slogan. ‘BJP fascist govt down down’,” he wrote.
Sofia is a writer who has extensively covered the Sterlite issue and the Chennai-Salem eight-lane highway project. In a tweet before the incident, she had wondered if she would be kicked off the flight if she confronted the BJP leader. But she could not have imagined the reaction.
Her father had a different version of events. He said that he was also travelling in the same flight and his daughter had moved away after raising the slogan once.
“As soon as the flight landed, Tamilisai along with her supporters rounded us up. BJP cadre were abusing us and threatened us.”
“For more than 8 hours, police kept my daughter in station for inquiry. She didn't use any derogatory remarks about Tamilisai or anyone. She just said "Fascist BJP Down down", which is purely freedom of expression. Now, I have lodged complaint against Tamilisai and others for threatening us. So far, no action has been taken,” he said.