Actress Ramya refuses to withdraw comment praising Pakistan

RamyaActress-cum-politician Divya Spandana, aka Ramya, has refused to withdraw remarks she made praising Pakistan, even though they could lead to charges of sedition. The former Congress party MP is already facing a complaint of sedition filed against her by a lawyer in Karnataka.

Ramya waded into controversy after visiting Islamabad with a group of young South Asian parliamentarians recently.

On her return she said Pakistan is ‘Not hell’ – a response to Indian Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar, who had said that gong to Pakistan is the ‘same as going to hell’.

On her blog Ramya said she stands by her remarks that Pakistan is not hell and she sees no reason to withdraw or apologise for it. She added it’s ironical that a country where people get away with murder, those that seek peace are targeted. Ramya said people in Islamabad were genuinely hospitable.

With Indo-Pakistan relations always fraught, for a change voicing harmless warm sentiments about the country still can give rise to strong criticism, said BBC’s South Asia editor Charles Haviland.

Activists from the BJP held protests, calling Ramya ‘anti-national’ and demanded she leave India. A lawyer K Vittal Gowda has also filed a private case seeking to get her charged with sedition.

A court will decide in a few days whether to hear the sedition case. Experts say it is likely to be dropped as the offence of sedition includes incitement to violence.