Aisha Sultana, the Lakshadweep-based filmmaker, on Monday moved the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail in the sedition case filed against her by the Kavaratti police, The New Indian Express reported.
The Kavaratti police registered a sedition case against Aisha on Thursday based on a complaint filed by the BJP’s Lakshadweep unit president, Abdul Khader. According to Khader, Aisha, in debate show hosted by Media One Malayalam news channel, had said that the Centre was using Covid-19 as a bio-weapon on the people of Lakshadweep.
According to The New Indian Express report, Aisha, who filed the plea through P Vijayabhanu, Senior Advocate of the Kerala High Court, stated that she never had any intention to excite disaffection or hatred towards the central government.
Speaking on the debate show on June 7, Aisha had said that the Central government had used a “bio-weapon” in Lakshadweep which caused the surge in Covid-19 cases from zero. 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.”
Patel, a former BJP leader, took charge as the administrator of Lakshadweep on December 5, 2020, after the death of former administrator Dineshwar Sharma. Patel 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’s petition on Monday stated that the Sub Inspector of Police, Kavaratti police station, has now issued a notice under section 41 A CrPC directing her to appear at the police headquarters at Kavaratti on June 20 for interrogation. Apprehending imminent arrest and detention, she has filed the anticipatory bail plea.
Stating that she is absolutely innocent of the allegations levelled against her, Aisha also reiterated that her criticism was against the relaxed Covid-19 protocols which led to the surge in cases on the island and she welcomed discussion on the matter.
Meanwhile, on Friday, several leaders and party workers of the BJP submitted their resignations to mark their protest against the sedition charges. They called the complaint against the Chetlath resident, “false and unjustified”. Earlier, the Lakshadweep Pravarthaka Sangham had expressed solidarity with Aisha.
Aisha has been actively participating 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. The campaign gained momentum after prominent personalities like actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, filmmaker Geetu Mohandas, and footballer CK Vineeth voiced their solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep.