Some time back, a research scholar from Canada, Sophia Louis was arrested for allegedly shouting anti-BJP slogans on a flight to Tuticorin. She was later released on unconditional bail.
Critics and opposition alleged that BJP state president Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan made the arrest to gratify her ego for raising a slogan against BJP, which was perceived as BJP’s inability to take dissent.
Sophia has been charged under IPC Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 290 (public nuisance) and Section 75 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act.
Many took to social media to protest for freedom of expression. Many condemned the arrest and showed their solidarity with her. Along with #Sophia, #ReleaseSophia and #பாசிசபாஜக_ஆட்சிஒழிக (Fascist BJP down in Tamil) trended.
Politicians using names for other politicians is not abuse. Only when ordinary citizens use words like 'fascist' its abuse, arouses suspicion! Her passport is confiscated! AMAZING! #Sofia #TamilisaiSoundararajan #nirmalasitharaman https://t.co/a77kbHEjnA
— Sujata Mody (@suj_mod) September 7, 2018
Some went on to the extent of leaving personal remarks against Dr Soundararajan:
5th std கொழந்தை கிள்ளினதுக்கு 12th std அக்கா Principal கிட்ட போய் "Master, she is 'kill'ing me"னு complain பண்ணாங்களாம்.
— preethi (@preethi50632948) September 6, 2018
#MoMo #TamilisaiSoundararajan #பாசிச_பாஜக_ஆட்சி_ஒழிக #பாஜக_பாசிச_ஆட்சி_ஒழிக #பாஜக_பாசிச_ஆட்சி_ஒழிக #பாஜக_பாசிச_ஆட்சி_ஒழிக #பாஜக_பாசிச_ஆட்சி_ஒழிக @DrTamilisaiBJP @BJP4TamilNadu @BJP4India pic.twitter.com/AgLg57Rua4
— Pallakarai settu (@PallakaraiSettu) September 5, 2018
The arrest of Sophia was unacceptable and condemnable, but at the same time, it’s not acceptable to mock Dr Soundararajan. Slander against an opponent is not the right way to put across a point. Sophia’s father, a retired government doctor filed a complaint against the BJP’s state unit chief after the incident.
Neither can we accept personal comments made against Sophia questioning her degree:
#Sophia is exposed for availing scholarship based on lies. Her degree will soon be cancelled. #SophiaFIR unfortunate that a incorrigible behaviour was supported by Maoist and separatist supporters. #TamilisaiSoundararajan @DrTamilisaiBJP @BJP4TamilNadu @TN_BJP_FRIENDS
— Ram (@ars_rama) September 5, 2018
When it comes to a woman, internet trolls start digging her past and make statements questioning her credibility and all kinds of personal remarks. We know how Sushma Swaraj and Priyanka Chaturvedi got trolled, which is not the same when it was a man on the forefront. Every woman who has been a victim of cyberbullying has gone through the same.
I strongly condemn the unwarranted arrest of Sophia, but I will equally condemn personal remarks made against Dr Soundarajan. I have to tell those people that never come down to this level to prove your point, you are doing more harm to Sophia than trying to stand up for her.
When can we have debate and discussion without slander and personal remarks?