Aisha Sultana, the Lakshadweep-based filmmaker, on Thursday, was granted interim anticipatory bail for one week by the Kerala High Court in the sedition case filed against her by the Kavaratti police, Live Law reported.
Aisha had moved the court on Monday seeking anticipatory bail in the case filed against her for her “bio-weapon” remark when criticising the island’s administration in a news channel debate.
Judge Ashok Menon, who grated her the interim bail, also directed Aisha to appear at the Kavaratti police headquarters for interrogation on June 20. However, according to the court’s order, if she is arrested after the interrogation, she shall be released on bail.
On June 7, Aisha, a native of Chetlat island, participated in a panel discussion on Lakshadweep’s administrative crisis hosted by Media One Malayalam news channel. Speaking on the debate show, Aisha said that the Central government had used a “bio-weapon” in Lakshadweep which caused the surge in Covid-19 cases. She received flak for her statement from a fellow speaker and representative of the BJP, and several others.
Reacting to the controversy, Aisha in a video statement said, “I am not against the Central government and my remark was only against the administrator. I compared the administrator [Praful Patel] with a bio-weapon because it was only after he came, that the island began reporting Covid-19 cases.”
On June 10, based on a complaint filed by the BJP’s Lakshadweep unit president, Abdul Khader, the Kavaratti police registered a sedition case against Aisha.
Following this, Aisha filed her plea for anticipatory bail on Monday through P Vijayabhanu, Senior Advocate of the Kerala High Court. In her plea, she stated that she never had any intention to excite disaffection or hatred towards the central government.
Patel, a former BJP leader, took charge as the administrator of Lakshadweep on December 5, 2020, after the death of former administrator Dineshwar Sharma. He is the first non-civil servant to be appointed as the administrator of the union territory.
The people of Lakshadweep have condemned Patel’s reforms such as changes in land acquisition policy as mentioned in the draft of the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021; implementation of the beef ban; the Goonda Act; removal of non-vegetarian food menu in school canteens; and many more.
Patel was also accused of diluting Covid-19 quarantine protocols leading to a surge in cases.
Aisha has been an active participant in the #SaveLakshadweep campaign, the online protest initiated by the islanders against the new reforms introduced by Patel that are in direct violation of their rights.