The father of Lois Sofia, the researcher who was arrested on Monday for allegedly shouting slogans against the Bharatiya Janata Party government and released on bail the next day, alleged that the Bharatiya Janata Party’s Tamil Nadu chief, Tamilisai Soundararajan, threatened his daughter. The 28-year-old was arrested from Thoothukudi on the basis of a complaint filed by Soundararajan after they both got off a Chennai-Thoothukudi flight.
In a letter to Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission member Jayachandran, Lois Sophia’s father, Dr AA Swamy, alleged that Soundararajan instigated BJP workers to harass his daughter and caused “tremendous emotional and mental pressure” to his family. Swamy said they fear for their lives.
He claimed the police took him, his daughter and wife to the Pudukottai police station for questioning without informing them on what grounds they were being taken in.
Swamy requested the commission to conduct an inquiry into the matter. He alleged that false charges were registered against his daughter and a non-bailable section included in the First Information Report against her after police personnel attempted to make her apologise. He also claimed that the Pudukottai police inspector refused to register his complaint against Soundararajan and BJP workers.
The police initially booked Lois Sofia under Section 290 of the Indian Penal Code pertaining to public nuisance and Section 75 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act which punishes the breaching of public peace. Swamy claimed the police later added Section 505 of the Indian Penal Code to the FIR which is used to punish “statements conducing to public mischief” and is a non-bailable offence. This means the accused can only obtain bail from a court after they are sent in remand.
Addressing the media at Lois Sofia’s house in Thoothukudi on Thursday, her lawyer Henri Tiphagne pointed to several illegalities in her arrest. He alleged the magistrate had asked her father to withdraw the complaint filed against Soundararajan.
“What authority does a magistrate have asking a complainant to withdraw a complaint?” he questioned.
Tiphagne said if Lois Sofia had shouted slogans on the flight, the cabin crew should have complained to the captain, who in turn would have filed a complaint with the airport authority. This has not happened.
On Tuesday, Swamy wrote to Jayachandran requesting the human rights commission’s immediate intervention. The full text of his letter is below:
Tamil Nadu State Human Rights Commission
I reside in the above-mentioned address and I belong to Scheduled Caste community. I had worked as a medical officer in government service and retired as chief civil surgeon from Koilpatti Headquarters Government hospital in December, 2010. My wife also served the government as a nursing superintendent at the Thoothukudi Medical college hospital and retired in March 2013. We have a son and a daughter. My son Kingston is married since December 2016 and presently is doing his super specialty in surgical oncology at the Christian Medical college, Vellore, while his wife Saumya works as an anesthesist at the Triplicane Government hospital in Chennai. Presently, I work as a doctor in a private hospital.
My daughter’s name is Ms. Lois Sopia (28 years). She completed her schooling in Thoothukudi. She then went to do her BSc in Physics at St Stephens college in Delhi during the period 2008 -2011. Thereafter she spent a year in research at the Raman Research Institute in Bangalore during 2011-2012 in theoretical physics under Dr Abhisek Dhar as adviser. Thereafter, she did her Masters in Physics at the University of Bonn in Germany during the period 2012-2015. From January 2015 she is registered for her Masters in Mathematics in the University of Sherbooke in Montreal and attends classes at the McGill University in Canada. Her course shall be completed in December 2018.
My daughter, in addition to her academic pursuits, is also a socially conscious person and has been using her skills as a writer, writing about environmental concerns in the district of Thoothukudi where she was born and brought up in true patriotic style and following her duties as a true citizen of India under the provisions of the Indian Constitution under Article 51A. Her articles on the Sterlite issue have been published in web portals such as The Wire and she has also contributed to the report published by ‘The Polis Project’ on the same issue.
My daughter came to India for her holidays from Montreal on 30.08.2018. Myself along with my wife went to Chennai to receive my daughter in Chennai and then we took an Indigo flight [6E 7185] with her on 03.09.2018 to Thoothukudi. It was an ATR aircraft. We were sated in the 8th row. My daughter occupied the window seat on the left side and beside her was my wife in the aisle seat. I was seated in the same row in the seat on the right side with no one next to me. In the same flight on the 3rd row we found that Dr Tamilisai Soundararajan, the Tamil Nadu state president of Bharatiya Janata Party was also travelling. While deboarding from the flight, Dr Soundararajan got up from her seat (3rd Row) and moved towards our seat (8th Row ) to reach the exit at the back of the aircraft. My daughter who was emotionally disturbed about what had happened on 22nd May in Thoothukudi and thereafter restricting several thousands of people and the present efforts of Sterlite to start its operations without any gesticulations on her part, in a voice that was not too loud but sufficiently loud enough to reach the attention of Dr Soundararajan as she crossed her seat saying, ‘Down down fascist BJP government’. As Dr Soundararajan crossed upon hearing this statement bent and saw my daughter but moved away not stating anything. I wish to clarify contrary to what had been carried out in the media that this was not raised as a slogan by her raising her hands etc, but only a statement in a low tone. The statement did now draw the attention of the other passengers including the crew or the captain of the aircraft.
Since my wife has both her knees replaced, we walked slowly from the aircraft to the airport arrival hall. Most of the other passengers had moved ahead and we were one of the last to reach the arrival hall towards the place where we had to pick up our luggage
We just then realised that after reaching the arrival hall, Dr Soundararajan had by then instigated her supporters and BJP cadres who had come to the Airport [whom we came to know later were not from Thoothukudi but from Tirunelveli as she was coming for a meeting in that district]. But one is not aware of how they entered the airport and they were inside the arrival hall and started surrounding our family. They gheraoed and abused my daughter in a vulgar manner and threatened to murder her if she did not apologise to their party leader. They further stopped us from leaving from the airport. One of the BJP cadre whose name I do not know, but can be identified, abused and threatened my daughter shouting, “You prostitute, how dare you shout at my leader”. Immediately, other BJP supporters started shouting against my daughter and threatened to kill her and abused her using vulgar language. While this was happening, Dr Soundararajan was only witnessing all of these threats, and she added to them and threatened my daughter saying, “I will destroy you”.
My daughter and my family were photographed without our consent by those BJP cadres upon the sole instigation of Dr Soundararajan with the intention to intimidate and shame us. Since this incident, my entire family, especially my daughter Ms Lois Sophia are under tremendous emotional and mental pressure and we also fear for our lives.
I would like to reiterate that my daughter did not commit any offence, but had just voiced her opinion through a statement that was not a raised loud as a slogan and it was not targeted against any individual but only a government democratically by expressing her freedom of speech as guaranteed by the Constitution of India. But, she received a violent reprisal and immense backlash through the intimidation by the BJP supporters upon instigation of their leader Dr Soundararajan.
The inspector of police of the airport Ms Nitya tried to intervene and calm down Dr Soundarajan but she did not listen to her efforts. We [the family] were then by the airport authorities to the departure area and we saw that there were efforts to once again force my daughter to apologise which she refused to do bluntly.
By then the Inspector of Police of Pudukottai police station arrived and we were then whisked away into a car and my daughter was taken to the police station. We were not told where we were being taken and for what we were being taken and realised that we were asked to stand outside the police station while my daughter was questioned inside from 1.30 pm to almost 7.30 pm where also several police officers questioned her one after another. The officers that she was subjected to questioning were :
- Inspector of Police of the All Women Police station of Pudukottai
- Inspector of Police of Pudukottai police station
- The DSP Thoothukudi Rural, Mr. Prakash
- The ADSP Thoothukudi
- The Inspector Q branch, Ms Valarmathi
- The SB SI Mr. Nambirajan
- The SB Inspector, Mr. Baskar
Since I was standing outside with my relatives, friends and lawyers we were told who the officers who were investigating my daughter exactly were. This was total torture that she was subjected to. But till then we never told what was the case that we were being investigated against us and the Inspector of Pudukottai Police station also obtained from me the earlier passport of my daughter and refused to give an acknowledgment for the same.
I also provided a complaint to the Inspector of Police of Pudukottai police for what had happened to me and my daughter in the airport by Dr Soundarajan and her supporters but they refused to even provide me an acknowledgment or FIR
When the FIR was finally ready against my daughter, she was asked to sign some papers she saw that there were only two offences shown to her that she was being charged against , namely, Section 290 IPC [punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for] and Section 75 of the Tamil Nadu City Police Act [Punishment for committing breach of public peace].
At 7.30 pm we were taken to the residence of the Judicial Magistrate NO III in Ganesan colony when we were told that there was another section that had been added by hand to the FR which was Section 505 IPC [statements conducing to public mischief] which was a non-bailable section. The Hon’ble Magistrate spoke to the lawyers and then remanded my daughter to judicial custody. As she was being ecscorted from there she developed a pain in her abdomen and hence was rushed to the Government Hospital and advised to get admitted there.
She was released on bail the following day. My lawyers would have better knowledge of what all happened and hence I shall request them to also provide a detailed statement in a day. I shall also get a further statement from a co-passenger who was willing to testify to what had taken place in the aircraft and airport.
Hence, we request the Hon’ble Commission to respectfully undertake take an investigation by into the incidents that actually took place inside the aircraft, the violent events that unfurled in the arrival hall of the airport, the long tortuous investigation by several police officers to cause my daughter mental harassment and somehow make her apologise from 1.30 pm to 7.30 pm as stated above, the registering of false charges against my daughter and altering the FIR later to include a non-bailable section, the act of the Judicial magistrate remanding my daughter to judicial custody in a bailable case contrary to the directives of the Supreme Court and the non registration of a case based on my complaint to the Inspector of police.
May I also pray that appropriate legal actions are therefore taken against Dr Soundararajan and her supporters who had intimated and abused my daughter and my family.
Order that my daughter’s passport that was been taken away from me and not provided me any receipt so far is returned urgently to me.
Ensure adequate security and protection to my family, especially my daughter M Lois Sophia
Pass necessary orders that you may deem fit and proper and thus render justice.
Dr AA Swamy