Hours after the Thoothukudi police arrested a student for shouting "down with fascist government" at BJP State President Tamilisai Soundararajan inside and outside the aircraft, DMK President and Leader of the Opposition MK Stalin has come out in support of the student.
Retweeting a news story about the student's arrest, MK Stalin slammed the Tamil Nadu government.
"The anti-democratic actions of the Tamil Nadu government that is against the right to free speech are highly condemnable. She must be released immediately. If you would arrest everyone who says that, how many lakhs of people would you imprison? I will also say it. 'BJP's fascist government down, down'" he tweeted.
In a move that sparked further outrage, Sofia was remanded to judicial custody for 15 days.
Soon after the arrest, several users on social media rallied behind Sofia, trending the hashtag #பாசிசபாஜக_ஆட்சிஒழிக (Fascist BJP, down down).
Tamilisai Soundararajan and Sofia Lois, a TN student studying in Canada, were both on a private flight to Thoothukudi. When Tamilisai was picking up her bag, Sofia shouted, "BJP's fascist government down, down!"
In a video clip that emerged shortly after the plane landed, Tamilisai can be seen losing her cool and confronting the student over her sloganeering.
"When I am taking my bag, a customer shouts 'BJP’s Fascist government down, down'. Is that freedom of speech?" Tamilisai is heard shouting, even as a police officer at the airport tries to pacify her. BJP cadre present along with the leader can be heard yelling at the student and her parents.
In a move that brought condemnation from several quarters, Sofia was then booked under Indian Penal Code Sections 290 (Punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for), 505 (Statements Conducing to Public Mischief) in addition to Section 75(1) of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act, 1888.