Indian actress’s pro-Pak remarks land her in troubled water

Srinagar, August 24, 2016 (PPI-OT):Indian actress-turned-politician, Ramya is facing a sedition charge filed against her by a lawyer in Karnataka for praising people in Pakistan, kicking up a controversy with questions being raised over invoking of colonial-era law to curb free speech.

As 33-year-old Ramya’s remarks triggered a backlash on the social media and BJP and ABVP workers staged protests terming her remarks “anti-national”, the actress stood her ground and refused to tender an apology, saying that she had not said anything wrong.

The private complaint in a court in Somwarpet in Kodagu district sought action on sedition and other charges against her for ‘insulting Indian patriots’ by her remark that “Pakistan is not a hell”.

The complaint has sought a direction to the police to book Ramya, a former Congress MP, in sedition and other charges under the Indian Penal Code.

Advocate K Vittala Gowda filed the complaint before the Somwarpet Judicial Magistrate court, which admitted it and posted it for hearing on August 27.

Gowda accused the multi-lingual actress of ‘insulting’ India and ‘provoking’ people by appreciating Pakistan.

After a recent visit to Islamabad as part of a SAARC delegation of young lawmakers, Ramya had said at a meeting in Mandya, which she represented from 2013 to 2014 in Lok Sabha, “Pakistan is not hell. People there are just like us. They treated us very well.”

Her remarks came as a veiled counter to comments of Indian Defence Minister, Manohar Parrikar, who while lashing out at Islamabad last week said, “Going to Pakistan is same as going to hell.”

On if she would apologize, Ramya said, “I don’t think I am wrong. It’s freedom of speech, also our duty to speak on inclusiveness and peace. Curbing freedoms is wrong in democracy. This is the state of affairs in this country today. Sedition is being slapped against anyone and anybody who is entitled to an opinion which should not be the case.”

She said that the BJP was trying to curb freedom of expression. “I think as an individual I should be allowed to air or express my thoughts, views and opinions. I think the BJP government is trying to curb that,” she added.

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