Court orders probe into complaint against Tamil Nadu BJP leader

Published : October 27, 2018 14:16 IST

A district court in Thoothukudi in Tamil Nadu has asked the State police to investigate a complaint preferred more than a month ago against the Tamil Nadu State BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan and 10 others and register  an FIR (First Information Report) on the basis of the probe. The complaint was in connection with an incident involving a woman research scholar at the Thoothukudi Airport on September 3.

 

The court was acting on a petition filed by Dr A. A. Sami asking it to direct the police of Pudukottai  in Thoothukudi to file a complaint against the BJP leader and others for “verbally abusing and threatening” his daughter Lois Sofia, a 26-year-old research scholar in Mathematics at the University of Montreal in Canada, at the Thoothukudi airport when she was returning home from Canada. Tamilisai Soundararajan had alleged that the scholar raised anti-BJP slogans such as “Fascist BJP government, down, down” on seeing her in the Chennai-Thoothukudi flight on September 3.

 

After landing in Thoothukudi, an agitated Tamilisai objected to Sofia’s sloganeering on the flight before engaging in a verbal duel with her at the airport lounge. She demanded an apology from Sofia. Tamilisai Soundararajan preferred a complaint with the Director of Thoothukudi airport, N. Subramanian, who forwarded it to the State police at the airport. (The airport has no CISF security as of now.)

 

The police arrested Sofia under Sections 290 and 505 (1)(b) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) and Section 75 (1)(C) of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act, 1888. She was produced before the Thoothukudi Judicial Magistrate III, who remanded her to 15 days’ judicial custody on the same day. Sofia was taken to Tirunelveli, some 45 kilometres away, where she was lodged in the women’s prison. She developed nausea and stomach problems later in the evening and was rushed back to Thoothukudi for medical treatment.  

 

A team of lawyers approached the court and got her enlarged on bail the next day. Sofia’s family pointed out that while the police did not hesitate to arrest Sofia on the BJP leader’s complaint, they refused to accept her father’s complaint against Tamilisai Soundararajan for abusing Sofia.  

 

Sami, a retired government doctor, told Frontline at the time of her arrest that his daughter was returning to Thoothukudi for the first time after the May 22 police firing in which 13 civilians, including a Plus II girl student, were killed. The police had opened fire on people who were marking the 100th day of their agitation against Sterlite Industries’ copper smelter plant in the town. Sofia, like many others, nursed a grievance that the BJP-led Central government had not condemned the police firing. “When she saw the BJP leader on board she became restless and raised a slogan while de-boarding,” he said.

 

E. Athisayakumar, a member in the Thoothukudi-based lawyers’ team that secured the bail for Sofia, told Frontline that the Judicial Magistrate (III), Thamilselvi, in her directions to the police on October 25, pointed out that the CD the petitioner’s counsel submitted revealed “that there is certain threatening by the party [BJP] members”. According to the lawyer, the petitioner’s counsel had alleged that “it happens due to the instigation of 1st respondent Tamilisai Soundararajan”.

 

Hence, Sofia’s lawyer said, the magistrate observed that “this court felt that there is sufficient ground to register the complaint against the persons who came along with 1st respondent Tamilisai Soundararajan”. She asked the police to verify the CCTV footage in the airport and the Pudukottai area police station before filing the FIR against the respondents [Tamilisai Soundararajan and 10 others]. “Hence the court forwards the complaint [of Sami], to investigate and to register the FIR against the respondents herein and report the same on or before 20-11-2018,” she ordered.

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