Anger after sedition FIR filed against Lakshadweep filmmaker Aisha Sultana over ‘biological weapons’ remarks in TV debate


There have been angry reactions from prominent politicians after Lakshadweep filmmaker Aisha Sultana was booked for sedition by police. The complaint was filed by one Abdul Khader, the Lakshadweep unit’s president of the BJP.

According to news agency PTI, the FIR was lodged by the Kavaratti police under sections 124 A (sedition) and 153 B (hate speech) of the Indian Penal code.

In a TV debate this week, Aisha had said on a Malayalam TV channel that the central government had used biological weapons to spread coronavirus in Lakshadweep. According to NDTV, Aisha had 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.”

The news of Aisha being booked for sedition evoked angry reactions from politicians.

Lakshadweep has been witnessing protests after its administrator Praful Patel announced several changes that locals say were against the predominantly Muslim population on the island. They included a ban on beef, disqualification of people with more than two children who wish to contest the village council elections and opening of liquor bars and shops among others.

Praful Patel, who hails from Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Gujarat, is the first non-bureaucrat to be appointed the administrator of a Muslim-majority union territory. The administrator has not explained how his decision to start liquor sale in Lakshadweep was justified when alcohol sale was banned in his home state of Gujarat. The BJP has not imposed a ban on the consumption and sale of beef in several states including Goa where it is in power due to respect for the dietary habits of the states’ dominant population group.

It’s in this context that locals in Lakshadweep feel that the slew of changes announced by Patel were brought in to harass the local Muslim population.

Patel is also accused of worsening the pandemic crisis in Lakshadweep by diluting the stringent measures already in place. The union territory was saved from the pandemic all through 2020 since visitors from mainland India were required to spend 14 days of strict quarantine before being allowed free movement on the island. However, Patel changed that rule and allowed visitors to only produce a negative RT-PCR obtained within 48 hours of their visit.

The change in the pandemic rule meant that Lakshadweep has now reported more than 7,500 cases and 30 deaths.