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Praise for Pak nets sedition charge

Actress Ramya defiant, cites ‘freedom of speech’

Bengaluru: 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 today with questions being raised over invoking a 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 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 hell”.

The complaint has sought a direction to the police to book Ramya, a former Congress MP, under sections 124(a) (sedition), 344 (wrongful confinement for ten or more days) and 511 (punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment) of the Indian Penal Code.

Advocate K Vittala Gowda filed the complaint before the Somwarpet Judicial Magistrate court, which yesterday 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 which is a “traditional enemy of India”.

After a recent visit to Islamabad as part of a SAARC delegation of young lawmakers, Ramya had reportedly 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 Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who while lashing out at Islamabad for promoting terror said last week: “Going to Pakistan is same as going to hell.”

On if she would apologise, 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 accused the BJP of 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.”

What Ramya had said

  • After her recent Islamabad visit as part of a SAARC delegation of young lawmakers, actress Ramya who represented Mandya in the 2013-14 Lok Sabha said: “Pakistan is not hell. People there are just like us. They treated us very well”.
  • Her remarks were in reference to comments made by Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who while lashing out at Islamabad for promoting terror said last week: “Going to Pakistan is same as going to hell”

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