'My daughter didn't want to apologise, it's her freedom of speech': Sofia's father to TNM

Sofia’s father Dr Samy, who was on the plane, denies that his daughter shouted multiple times and raised her hands like Tamilisai had alleged.
'My daughter didn't want to apologise, it's her freedom of speech': Sofia's father to TNM
'My daughter didn't want to apologise, it's her freedom of speech': Sofia's father to TNM
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Even as the clamour over the altercation between a Canada-based research scholar Sofia Lois and TN BJP President Tamilisai Soundararajan continues to dominate headlines, Sofia’s father, Dr Samy is still waiting on police action over his complaint against BJP cadre at the airport.

Dr Samy, along with his wife and daughter, was travelling on a private airlines from Chennai to Thoothukudi on Monday- the same flight that Tamilisai was also travelling on. An eventless flight turned into a shocker for him when his daughter shouted at the TN BJP chief with the words, “BJP-yin fascist aatchi ozhiga”(Down with BJP’s fascist regime).

“Tamilisai was sitting in the third row. We were sitting in the eighth row. She had to pass by us to deplane. When she was passing by, my daughter stood up and shouted ‘down with the fascist BJP government’. I didn’t expect that she would do that. Tamilisai turned and looked at my daughter and then walked out. She paid no heed to her. She couldn’t speak at that point. She should have either retorted to my daughter or gotten angry. She didn’t do either," Samy said.

It was when the family walked out of the plane that things took a turn for the worse.

Dr Samy says, “Tamilisai walked out, called all the BJP supporters waiting outside and gathered them. They began shouting at us and threatening us. They said, if you come out, we will hack you, we will kill you. They used some vulgar words as well. My daughter did not get scared by all that.”

This is when the viral footage of Tamilisai advancing towards Sofia was reportedly shot. Tamilisai is heard asking, “When I am taking my bag, a customer shouts 'BJP’s Fascist government down, down'. Is that freedom of speech?” While a police woman tries to calm her down, saying that the student had spoken out of her ‘immaturity’, the BJP district cadre at the airport are seen shouting at the family.

“The police took us to a separate room for our own safety. They told us if you apologise, we won’t make this a big issue. We will leave it. My daughter said, don’t we have freedom of speech? I have said my view, let her say hers. When my daughter refused to apologise, Tamilisai gave a written complaint,” he says.

However, no action has been forthcoming from the Tamil Nadu police on a complaint that Dr Samy gave based on the threats he received from the BJP party cadre at the airport. He says, “Neither have they taken any action, nor have they given any promise of taking action. One group of cadres staged a dharna right at the airport stating that they would not get up until Sofia is arrested. Another 50 people mobbed us. They have only registered the complaint.”

In addition to giving the complaint, Dr Samy alleged that Tamilisai had called TN Chief Secretary Girija Vaidyanathan on the phone. He adds, “From 11: 30 am to 8: 30 pm, they kept my daughter at the police station under the pretext of an enquiry.”

Accusing Tamilisai of using her political clout, Dr Samy says, “First they said, it was not a big offence. They just wanted two witness signatures at the police station for bail. Then after an hour they said we had to go to the magistrate for bail. When they took my daughter’s signature, they took it for bailable sections only. Then they went back and added non-bailable sections at the time of remanding her. However, my daughter quickly saw the copy and told the magistrate that she did not sign off on non-bailable sections. The magistrate herself said that the incident did not warrant non-bailable sections and so the police removed it.”

Tamilisai had said that Sofia lifter her hands and raised slogans. Refuting this, Dr Samy says she simply shouted once. He also denies that any conversation took place between Sofia and Tamilisai on the way out.

On her return to Chennai on Tuesday morning, the BJP chief addressed reporters and further said that the incident was a planned attack, citing a tweet from Sofia’s Twitter account which asked, “I am on a flight with Tamilisai Soundararajan and really want to shout down with Modi- BJP- RSS' fascist regime. Will I be kicked off the flight?”

When asked about this, Dr Samy says, “We have never seen Tamilisai before this. If we had not happened to be on the same flight, this problem would never have happened.”

Dr Samy fears that the pressure is on the authorities to take away Sofia’s passport. “On the one hand this has been extremely stressful and on the other hand, my daughter is studying in Canada. They are planning to block her passport. Isn’t that also a kind of violence?” he asks.

Read: ‘I also have rights, privacy’: BJP’s Tamilisai stands by her complaint against Sofia

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