Ramya, Accused Of Sedition For Pakistan Comment, Says Won't Apologise

Actor-politician Ramya is being attacked for saying Pakistan is "not hell, its people are like us"

Highlights

  • "Pakistan is not hell. People there are just like us," actor Ramya said
  • Her remarks were in reference to the Defence Minister's comment on Pak
  • Ramya visited Islamabad for a SAARC event recently
Bengaluru: Actor-politician Ramya, accused of "sedition" over her comments praising Pakistan after a recent visit, says she will not apologise and feels it is important "not to succumb" to her critics.

The 33-year-old Kannada film star, a former lawmaker of Karnataka's ruling Congress, has been attacked on social media and has also been taken to court by a lawyer who has filed a "sedition case" in Kodagu in southern Karnataka, around 250 km from state capital Bengaluru.

Ramya, after visiting Islamabad as part of a SAARC delegation of young lawmakers, had said: "Pakistan is not hell. People there are just like us. They treated us very well."

The outspoken actor, whose real name is Divya Spandana, had referenced Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar's comment last week that "going to Pakistan is like going to hell".

"I will not apologise as I have done nothing wrong. I am entitled to my views and that is what democracy is about," Ramya told NDTV, alleging that sedition laws are misused against "anybody and everybody".

"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," she commented.

The case against her, filed by Katnamane Vittal Gowda, will be heard on Saturday.

Karnataka's Congress government is wading in criticism over a sedition case against rights watchdog Amnesty International over a Kashmir-related event last week where slogans of "Azadi" (freedom) were raised.

The police filed the case after the Akhil Bhartiya Vidyarthi Parishad, an organisation linked to the BJP, complained. There have been no arrests.

Attacked by rivals and activists, the Congress appears to be divided over whether the sedition charge is justified, but it has not withdrawn the case yet.

The US state department said today that it respects Amnesty's right to express itself freely.

"We obviously, as we do around the world, support the right to freedom of expression and assembly, including through civil society," State Department Deputy Spokesman Mark Toner
told reporters.