Lakshadweep Sahithya Pravarthaka Sangham condemned the sedition charge against Aisha Sultana, the Lakshadweep-based filmmaker who allegedly criticised the Centre and the island’s administrator Praful Patel concerning the island’s Covid-19 situation during a panel discussion on a Malayalam news channel.
Aisha, a native of Chetlat island, on Monday 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 bio-weapons in Lakshadweep which caused the surge in Covid-19 cases from zero.
She received flak from a fellow speaker who was a representative of the BJP. Aisha later clarified that she meant island’s administrator as the bio-weapon and not the Central government.
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 only after he came, the island began reporting Covid-19 cases.”
The Kavaratti police on Thursday registered a sedition case on Aisha based on a complaint filed by BJP’s Lakshadweep unit president, Abdul Khader, The Hindu reported. According to Khader, Aisha said that the Centre was using Covid-19 as a bio-weapon on the people of Lakshadweep, the report stated.
Meanwhile, The Lakshadweep Pravarthaka Sangham issued a press statement condemning the sedition charge on Aisha. The spokesperson K Bahir said, “It is not right to portray Aisha as an ‘anti-national’. She reacted against Praful Patel’s inhumane approach and it may be noted that Lakshadweep was in the green zone and it was Praful Khoda Patel’s intervention that turned the island into a Covid-19 affected area. We, the cultural community in Lakshadweep, stand in solidarity with Aisha Sultana.”
While the island reported zero Covid-19 cases throughout 2020, the first case was reported this year on January 18. As of Thursday, Lakshadweep recorded 721 active cases and 42 deaths. While the total number of Covid-19 cases stands at 9,073, 8,278 people have recovered from the infection.
Aisha, who is also an actor and model, has worked as assistant directors under several filmmakers, including Lal Jose. She worked as an associate director in the 2019 Malayalam film Kettiyolaanu Ente Malaakha. In August 2020, Aisha announced her debut directorial Flush and the film’s shooting was completed on March 15.
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 moment after prominent personalities like actor Prithviraj Sukumaran, filmmaker Geetu Mohandas, footballer CK Vineeth voiced their solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep.
The people of Lakshadweep have condemned Patel’s reforms such as changes in land acquisition policy as mentioned in the Draft 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. He was also accused of diluting Covid-19 protocols leading to a surge in cases.