Karnataka-based actor-politician Ramya has been accused of “sedition” for making positive comments about Pakistan. She has been widely attacked on social media and a case of sedition has been filed against her by a lawyer in Kodagu, NDTV reported.
Ramya said today that she refused to back down and would not apologise for her statements.
Ramya, whose real name is Divya Spandana, is a Kannada film actor and has been a Congress Lok Sabha MP. She recently went to Islamabad as part of a delegation of young lawmakers from SAARC countries, and said, “Pakistan is not hell. People there are just like us. They treated us very well.”
Her statement was in response to defence minister Manohar Parrikar saying last week that “Going to Pakistan is like going to hell”.
“I will not apologise as I have not done nothing wrong. I am entitled to my views and that is what democracy is about,” Ramya told NDTV.
“I can say sorry, it is the easiest thing for me, but if I do it in this case, the purpose is lost. Right now I really need to stand up for myself…What I said is harmless…People trying to spread hatred are legal and people who are civil and trying to bring people together are unlawful – such an irony,” she continued.
“Also, calling Pakistan a good nation can not be seditious,” India Today quoted her as saying.
The case against her, filed by lawyer Katnamane Vittal Gowda, will be heard on Saturday. Gowda was apparently “appalled” that she praised a country that India blames for promoting terrorism.
According to multiple Supreme Court rulings on the law, nobody can be charged with sedition unless they commit violence, organise violence or incite imminent violence.
If Ramya’s comments defending Pakistan as “not hell” classify as “seditious”, the list of people guilty of the crime will increase substantially and will also include none other than Mahatma Gandhi.
Soon after independence, Gandhi said some things that Parrikar, Gowda and all the others attacking Ramya could find equally “appalling”.
The following is an excerpt from Gandhi’s prayer discourse of September 13, 1947, barely a month after independence and partition. It is taken from the Collected Works of Mahatma Gandhi, Volume 89, as published online by the Gandhi Heritage Portal.
“I went to the Purana Qila today. I saw thousands of Muslims there. Other trucks loaded with Muslims were proceeding towards the Quila. All of them were Muslim refugees… I cannot bear to see them escaping to Pakistan out of panic. It is not as if there is heaven in Pakistan and hell here. Why do we find ourselves in such hell? I know that neither Pakistan nor India is hell. If we wish we can turn either into heaven or by our own deeds into hell. And if both the countries become hell, an independent man has no place there. After that we are only doomed to slavery. This thought is gnawing at my heart. My heart trembles and I wonder how I will make any Hindu, Sikh or Muslim understand all this… No one would ever want to leave behind his house and property. The Hindu refugees are in the same situation. They have left behind their homes and properties… It is a matter of shame for everybody.”