Amid long-simmering protests in the tranquil archipelago of Lakshadweep against the governance and policies rolled out by BJP backed administrator Praful Khoda Patel, the island has seen the influx of sedition in its territory as the administration has taken the colonial-cum-controversial law in its hands to suppress the voices against the government.
In what has become a disturbing precedent, the Lakshadweep police had on Thursday invoked the charges of Sedition on activist and filmmaker Aisha Sultana based on a complaint lodged by a BJP leader in which the latter had alleged that she spread false news about the spread of COVID-19 in the Union Territory in a television news debate. According to reports, Aisha took part in a news debate on 'Media One', a Malayalam news channel, on the contentious reforms implemented by the current administration in Lakshadweep.
During the debate, Aisha had slammed the Union government by alleging that a 'bioweapon' has been used in the archipelago. Her bioweapon remark has come against the backdrop of allegations from the people of the islands that Patel's administration has largely relaxed the COVID-19 norms and restrictions due to which the cases are surging. Aisha made the remarks stating that the islands didn't have any COVID-19 cases last year and now the cases are increasing and more than 100 cases are reported daily.
Lakshadweep had recorded its first COVID-19 case in January this year after the measures of quarantine and testing rules were relaxed by Patel's administration. As Aisha had allegedly made 'bioweapon' remarks criticizing the administration for its policies, BJP's Lakshadweep unit president Abdul Khader has filed a complaint against her, and based on the complaint, the Lakshadweep police had filed a case against Aisha.
According to the First Information Report (FIR), the Kavaratti police filed a case against Aisha under sections 124A (sedition) and 153B (Imputations, assertions, prejudicial to national integration) of the Indian Penal Code. Aisha Sultana is a native of Chetiath island in Lakshadweep and besides being an activist, she is also a model, actor, and filmmaker.
In his complaint, the BJP leader has alleged that Aisha's remark was an anti-national act, which deteriorates the patriotic image of the Union government. The BJP leader has demanded action against her. The invocation of sedition has been surging in India under Modi's regime and when the mainland is used to witness the tag of sedition on the activists who oppose the Union government's policies and legislation, the sedition law has finally entered Lakshadweep amid calls for repealing the colonial law.
According to reports, Aisha said that she used the word 'bioweapon' to the policies of the Administrator. Taking to social media, she said, "I had used the word bioweapon in the TV channel debate. I have felt Patel as well as his policies as a bioweapon. It was through Patel and his entourage that COVID-19 began spreading in Lakshadweep. I have compared Patel as a bioweapon, not the government or the country. You should understand. What else should I call him?".
However, in a fashion of showing allegiance to the party, BJP members had staged a protest on the islands on Thursday seeking action against Aisha. Condemning such protests, the filmmaker said she cannot be silenced. She said, "The BJP leader who filed the case is a Lakshadweep native. When he betrays his homeland, I will keep up the fight for the homeland. Those who are going to be alone tomorrow are those who are betraying the islands. I didn't raise my voice to back off when they try to oppress me. My voice is only going to be louder again."
The tranquil islands on the Arabian Sea have been witnessing an unprecedented scale of protests for over a month as the residents and activists in the archipelago have been protesting against what they call 'anti-people' policies of Praful Patel. Patel, who was former Gujarat Home Minister in Narendra Modi's cabinet, was appointed as the Administrator of Lakshadweep last December, and ever since he took the office, Patel has been running through controversies and outrage.
Earlier, the people had held a hunger strike for 12 hours and protested under the sea to demand the Center to withdraw Patel. The protesters had held placards with slogans like 'Save Lakshadweep', 'Justice for Lakshadweep', and 'Revoke LDAR' (Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation). The islanders had said that Patel's administration has been functioning in a style of destroying the unique culture and traditions of the islands. However, BJP has completely backed Patel and claimed that the protests were a result of Patel's efforts to end corruption involving local politicians and pour developments in the islands.