- Earlier in the day, the BJP held a protest on the islands, asking that the filmmaker be punished.
- Sultana, a filmmaker and actor from Lakshadweep, has collaborated with a number of Malayalam filmmakers.
- Sultana is a native of Lakshadweep’s Chetiath island.
Ayesha Sultana, a Lakshadweep filmmaker, has been charged with sedition and hate speech for her comments criticising Administrator Praful Khoda Patel’s handling of the Covid issue and suggesting that the Centre had employed a “bio-weapon.” The FIR was lodged in response to a complaint from the BJP’s Union Territory chief.
During a television debate on a regional channel, Ayesha Sultana blamed Praful Patel’s policies for the island’s Covid cases, claiming that the Centre had employed “bio-weapon” against Lakshadweep. In the past, protesters, including Lakshadweep Parliamentarian Mohammed Faizal, have accused the Administrator of removing quarantine protocols that were required for people to enter Lakshadweep.
“COVID-19 instances were zero in Lakshadweep. A daily increase of 100 cases is now being reported. It’s a bioweapon that the Center has deployed. The central government has deployed bioweapons and I can this clearly, “she said earlier this week at a Malayalam TV debate.
The BJP’s Lakshadweep chief, C Abdul Khader Haji, filed a police complaint accusing her of making “anti-national” remarks that “tainted the central government’s patriotic image.”
Ayesha Sultana has slammed the Administrator’s contentious choices, which have sparked protests and resentment across the islands.
On Facebook, the filmmaker defended her remarks. “They have filed a sedition case against me but I want to reiterate that truth will win. Case was filed by a BJP worker from Lakshadweep. I will continue my fight for the land where I was born. We don’t fear anyone. My voice is going to be louder now,”she stated.
On social media, the case against her has gotten a lot of attention.
Aiysha Sultana, budding filmmaker, booked under sedition charges. Crime: Dared to describe admin policy a bio-weapon . Reason: Laccadives did not have a single case of Covid for a year until admin removed mandatory quarantine for travellers. Now Covid rages. Some sedition indeed! pic.twitter.com/oZU9m7hBGX— Thomas Isaac (@drthomasisaac) June 11, 2021
Shashi Tharoor, a Congress member, claimed that the phrase “sedition” was misused to harass her.
2/3 I even introduced a Private Member's Bill in Parliament in 2014-15 to "read down" the Sedition Law as to make the SC interpretation clear. Applying the wrong interpretation to charge Aysha Sultana is little more than harassment.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) June 11, 2021
3/3 The sedition case will fail in the courts, since it does not meet basic standards, but she will be made to suffer till then. The process is the punishment. It is a total abuse of the process of law & unworthy of our democracy. The case against Aisha Sultana shld be withdrawn.— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) June 11, 2021
Praful Patel, who was named Lakshadweep Administrator in December, has faced criticism for a series of moves he claims will help establish Lakshadweep as a significant tourism destination comparable to the Maldives.
A new detention law that gives the administration sweeping authority to imprison anyone for up to a year, another law that tries to extend the administration arbitrary land acquisition powers, and a planned ban on cattle slaughter are among the reforms he plans. The residents of Lakshadweep, who are primarily Muslims, believe the laws are aimed at their eating habits.
Residents protested with signs in their houses, on beaches, and even underwater on Monday. Many members of parliament, officials, and important figures have spoken out against the changes. A resolution demanding for the administrator’s recall has been passed unanimously by the Kerala assembly.