Lakshadweep-based filmmaker Ayesha Sultana has moved the Kerala High Court seeking anticipatory bail after being charged for sedition and hate speech for her remarks made in the context of the COVID-19 crisis in the island during a debate on a TV news channel. The case was filed against her on the basis of a complaint made by a local BJP leader.
She moved the court as the Lakshadweep Police has asked her to appear before the Kavaratti police on June 20 in connection with the FIR. The filmmaker is apprehending arrest if she goes to Kavaratti.
What Ayesha Sultana said
The filmmaker had blamed COVID cases in the island on administrator Praful Patel’s decisions and remarked that the Centre had used “bio-weapon” against Lakshadweep. The administrator had been accused by protesters including Lakshadweep Parliamentarian Mohammed Faizal in the past of doing away with quarantine protocols that were a must for people to enter Lakshadweep.
During a debate on a Malayalam TV, Sultana said, “Lakshadweep had zero cases of COVID-19. Now it is reporting a daily spike of 100 cases. What the Centre has deployed is a bioweapon. I can say this clearly that the central government has deployed bioweapon.”
After the controversy erupted and an FIR was filed against her, Sultana took to Facebook to defend her comments. She said, “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 do not fear anyone. My voice is going to be louder now.”
Outrage over the case
Several politicians from Kerala have voiced support for Sultana. It includes Congress MP Shashi Tharoor and CPI (M) leader Thomas Isaac. Many incumbent ministers in the Kerala government have also extended their support to Sultana.
The Supreme Court, too, had criticised the governments for rampant abuse of the sedition law and clarified that criticising the government does not amount to sedition.
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