Actor-turned-politician Khushbu Sundar, who joined the BJP earlier this month, was detained by the police in Tamil Nadu's Chengalpattu district today while she was on her way to lead a protest against a politician for his remarks on ancient Hindu text Manusmriti.
During a recent address to a group, Thol Thirumavalavan, Cuddalore MP and the chief of Viduthalai Chiruthaigal Katchi (VCK), had claimed that religious text Manusmriti demeans women. The politician had demanded ban on Manusmriti.
Ms Sundar was heading to Cuddalore district to lead a protest by the BJP's women's wing when she was detained. The police had denied permission for the protest in Cuddalore.
"I wouldn't say detention because I asked the police very clearly whether it is a detention or an arrest. They said it is an arrest... They arrested me at Chengalpattu district entrance and they have kept me in a private place with other party leaders. We're not even aware of what is happening outside. We're not allowed to go out. Nobody is allowed to come in," Ms Sundar told NDTV on the phone.
The party has demanded an apology from Mr Thirumavalavan for his remarks, with its women's wing calling for protests across Tamil Nadu. The BJP said the comments could trigger a communal clash.
"What was the necessity for Mr Thirumavalavan to speak or even refer to this book which was written in the 17th century? Now when the elections are coming up... it is absolutely irrelevant... Mr Thirumavalavan should be ashamed of himself. Either he should say he will go by the book which was written 3,700 years ago or he should say he follows the constitution of this country written by Dr Ambedkar," Khushbu Sundar said.
Reacting to the criticism, Mr Thirumavalavan said, "I only quoted Manusmriti. Manusmriti has to be banned. The BJP is spreading fake news to trigger clashes."
A case was filed against the VCK chief, which was condemned by the opposition DMK, Congress and other parties that form the Secular Progressive Alliance.
On Monday, BJP and VCK cadres nearly came to blows when Mr Thirumavalavan visited Erode. When he was on his way to attend a wedding, BJP workers raised slogans against him and demanded his apology for his comments. VCK, who were in the vicinity, raised counter slogans and it appeared for a while that a clash may erupt. The police took away the BJP workers in a van. When the vehicle was about to leave the spot, some VCK workers allegedly threw stones on the van, but no one was injured, the police said.
Khushbu Sundar, 50, changed camp from the Congress and joined the BJP just months before the Tamil Nadu polls. In her resignation letter to Congress president Sonia Gandhi, she wrote that she felt "pushed and suppressed" by people who had no connect with ground reality.
Tamil Nadu would go for polls in May next year and the BJP, which has negligible presence in the state, has brought in many news faces ahead of the election. The ruling AIADMK-BJP alliance suffered a near rout in the Lok Sabha polls.