The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sania stung by focus on row
- Debate over freedom of expression

Kochi, Nov. 21: Faced with a volley of questions on the controversy over premarital sex, Sania Mirza today cut short a media conference.

Sania had said at the outset that she was in the commercial capital of Kerala as the brand ambassador of a jewellery firm, Malabar Gold.

“So please restrict yourselves to the subject,” the tennis star, seated along with actor Mohanlal, the co-brand ambassador of the NRI venture, appealed to the reporters.

Sania reminded the journalists that she had already issued a statement on Friday, which said she had not endorsed permarital sex as reported by a section of the media.

However, trouble started when some of her media handlers advised the reporters not to prod further.

Playing on the name of the brand, the reporters referred to the rich legacy of Malabar (the northern region of Kerala known for its fierce resistance to the British) in protecting the right to freedom of expression.

Sania replied: “I also appreciate Malabar’s legacy. But I know that you are taking me back to the subject.”

The reporters then said the aim was not to drag her into a controversy but to get her opinion on the right to dissent and freedom of expression.

“Let’s come back to Malabar Gold,” Sania repeated.

A reporter then asked: “Madam, would you at least endorse the right of the two actresses, Kushboo and Suhasini, to freely express their opinion on social issues' Don’t you feel stifled by the morality police who are trying to dictate terms'”

Sania: “I told you I don’t want to say anything further on the subject.”

Sensing trouble, she initially refused to answer the opening question on her future in tennis. “This function is about Malabar Gold, so let’s stick to that.”

“We just do not know what the future is. We will have to just wait and watch. It’s been a great year for me (as Malabar Gold brand ambassador). Okay'”

The questions on the controversy then followed, prompting her to discontinue the interaction midway.

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