Lois Sofia was arrested on Monday from Thoothukudi airport for shouting and causing disturbance in a domestic flight and the entire cabal, without losing a moment, made her a crusader for freedom of speech and expression. The entire incident became more controversial because of involvement of Tamil Nadu’s BJP state unit chief, Tamilisai Soundararajan. Lois Sofia, who is a research scholar in Canada, started shouting at Soundarrajan during the flight. She shouted, “down with BJP – RSS fascist government”. Her sloganeering created a lot of disturbance and her unruly behaviour exposed danger to other passengers. Sofia was arrested by the police and later on released on bail once the flight landed in Tuticorin. Shouting anti-BJP slogans is not an offence. However, creating ruckus aboard a flight is an offence and a serious threat to public security and safety the Police did the right thing by arresting her on the ground of a serious offence.
Even after four days of the incident, the issue continues to get media attention especially that of local media. It is very well known that Tamil Nadu’s local media has incipient hatred for the BJP and they are using the issue as a weapon to target the BJP government at the Centre without even giving a single thought to the seriousness of the issue. Apart from media, opposition parties like DMK and Congress are also backing Sofia, and the ‘intellectuals’ have already declared that it is an undeclared emergency like situation in the country. Their immature stands on the entire incident show how much they are divorced from the ground reality.
Lois Sofia is not just an innocent research scholar. According to a Swarajya report, her activities on social media have shown that she was very active during anti-Sterlite protests. One of her uncles, an advocate, actively participated in the protests. Sofia also actively participated in the protest against the eight-lane Salem-Chennai green expressway corridor. Sofia is also a supporter of at least two organisations, one of which was seen as the primary culprit behind the Thoothukudi violence. She is also an adherent of an organization headed by Thirumurugan Gandhi that actively champions for a separate Tamil nation in the garb of supporting Sri Lankan Tamils. Another important thing to note here is that Sofia is studying in Canada which is known for providing safe havens to extremist forces be it Khalistani or Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE). In Canada, LTTE sympathizers are still very active. Sri Lankan Tamil immigrants are funding the pro-Lankan Tamil organizations, including that of Thirumurugan Gandhi’s May 17, in India and, according to Swarajya report most of them are influenced by the Church. There are strong suspicions that Sofia is most probably under the influence of Lankan Tamils who are working in the direction to set up separate Tamil nation. The senior BJP leader and Rajya Sabha MP Subramanian Swamy also made the same suspicions. He said, “Because of she is coming from Canada, she could very well be LTTE. Because a lot of Tamils in Canada are LTTE people and they use this word ‘fascist’ for the BJP.”
The media is also hiding the fact that Sofia has been asked to surrender her passport and her bail is also conditional. The magistrate also told her to be aware of her surroundings before speaking or shouting anything and lastly, around 15 lawyers appeared for her help in the court, which even made the magistrate surprised. He was wondering why there was so much fanfare for the case.
Use of caste in this entire episode gave rise to some more puzzling questions. Sofia’s father filed a complaint with the Pudukottai police in which he mentioned his caste name and he even justified his act by saying that Soundararajan was on her way to Tenkasi to admit people belonging to his caste in the BJP and he wanted the people of his caste to know that the ruling party at the centre was against the downtrodden caste. Earlier, the Deccan Chronicle had reported, “Police also do not rule out the possibility of her act being politically motivated. As the accused is a Dalit (from Devendra Kula Vellala community), her act might have been to direct the Dalits’ ire against the BJP and its state president, Dr Tamilisai, who was on her way to participate in a party function at Tenkasi where about 1,000 Dalits from various parties joined the BJP.” So this makes entire episode fishy and the possibility that slogans were raised in order to provoke BJP state president cannot be denied. According to Sofia’s Twitter account, when she saw Tamilisai Soundararajan is also travelling with her in the flight, she tweeted that “I am on a flight with Tamilisai Soundararajan and really want to shout “Modi-BJP-RSS’ fascist government, down, down”. Will I be kicked off the flight?” However, now the tweet has been deleted from her account.
Now, few things are very clear, first, it is not the case of suppressing freedom of speech and expression as the mainstream media is trying to portray. Second, Sofia has a darker, sinister motive. Third, there is a larger political ploy which mainstream media is deliberately trying to hide. Fourth, the incident again exposed the media’s hatred against the BJP.