Actor and Makkal Needhi Maiam (MNM) chief Kamal Haasan on Wednesday extended full support to Lois Sofia who was arrested at the Tuticorin airport on Monday for calling the central government ‘fascist’ on a flight in front of state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) president Tamilisai Soundararajan. He said “to air dissent is not crime”.

Senior Congress leader and former union minister Manish Tewari also condemned Sofia’s arrest for anti-BJP slogans on Wednesday. Addressing a press conference in New Delhi, Tewari termed Sofia’s arrest an “assault on freedom of expression”.

A Thoothukudi court on Tuesday granted bail to the 28-year-old Tamil Nadu student and writer who is studying in Canada.

Earlier on Monday, Sofia got arrested after she shouted “Fascist BJP government down down” when Tamil Nadu state president of the BJP Tamilisai Soundararajan was waiting at the airport to collect her luggage. Following the incident, BJP state president got into a verbal argument with the girl and asked the policewoman present at the airport to take an action against the student. Sofia was then taken into the custody after Soundararajan filed a complaint against her with the airport police.

Reports said that Louis Sofia was charged under IPC Sections 505 (statements conducing to public mischief), 290 (public nuisance) and Section 75 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act and the case was being handled by the All Women Police Station at Tuticorin.

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Meanwhile, the incident also stirred an outrage against the police and AIADMK government. Earlier on Monday, DMK president MK Stalin attacked the Tamil Nadu government with a tweet in which he accused it of suppressing the right to free speech. He said that the girl should be released immediately and if those who will say the slogan will be imprisoned then he will also say it.

On the contrary, Soundararajan has alleged that Lois Sofia was not an ordinary passenger and there must be some extremist organisation behind her. 

Also, Sophia’s lawyer contended that the BJP state president could have spoken to her in private rather than publically shame her. The lawyer also alleged that Tamilisai instigated BJP cadre against Sophia and they made vulgar remarks against her.

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