Thiruvananthapuram: Lakshadweep Police on Thursday booked filmmaker Aisha Sulthana on sedition charges over her ‘biological weapon’ remark during a television debate.
She was booked after a complaint was filed with the Kavaratti police by the BJP’s Lakshadweep unit president Abdul Khader who said, “Sulthana is circulating false news about the spread of COVID-19 in the union territory” during a TV debate in a Malayalam channel.
Khader’s complaint cited a recent debate on Malayalam channel ‘MediaOne TV’ on the ongoing controversial reforms in Lakshadweep, in which Aisha had purportedly said that the Centre was using ‘bio-weapon’ on the islands.
Sulthana had alleged that the central government used ‘biological weapons’ for the spread of COVID-19 in Lakshadweep islands. “The BJP leader said the centre is trying to care for the islanders. Does this care result in the increase of several covid patients who had zero cases to hundreds of cases per day. They have used biological weapon. I can say one thing very accurately. The centre has clearly used bioweapon in a place which had zero cases,” she said in the debate, titled, ‘Will the traitors of the island leave coast?’ in the Malayalam channel on Wednesday night.
This reference was objected to by BG Vishnu, who represented BJP and asked her to withdraw the reference as “it is baseless and sending a wrong message against the country”.
When the TV anchor asked for a clarification of this statement, Sulthana compared the situation with that of “the news of China used against the world.”
Sulthana reiterated that said she is ready to take responsibility for the remark and repeated the statement that “the administrator used bioweapon in the island.”
However, the anchor who termed it as “a grave matter, and it is her personal view”. Lakshadweep MP Muhammed Faizal and Komalam Koya of CPM also participated in the one hour debate.
According to the FIR lodged by the Kavaratti police, a case under sections 124 A (sedition) and 153 B (hate speech) of the Indian Penal code has been registered against the filmmaker.
The BJP leader, in his complaint, has alleged that Sulthana’s was an anti-national act, which tarnished the “patriotic image” of the central government. He sought action against her.
Earlier in the day, the BJP staged a protest in the islands seeking action against Sulthana who hails from Chetiath island in Lakshadweep.
Lakshadweep has been witnessing protests by various political parties since the administration under Administrator Praful Patel started implementing reform measures in the islands.
A film professional, who worked with several Malayalam filmmakers, Aisha has been at the forefront of campaigns against the reforms and proposed legislation.
However, Aisha justified her controversial reference in a Facebook post that, “I had used the word bio-weapon in the TV channel debate. I have felt (Praful) Patel as well as his policies have acted) as a bio-weapon. It was through Patel and his entourage that Covid-19 spread in Lakshadweep. I have compared Patel as a bioweapon, not the government or the country…. You should understand. What else should I call him…”
The remarks had sparked protests from the BJP’s Lakshadweep unit. BJP workers had moved complaints against Aisha in Kerala as well.