New Delhi: Lakshadweep Police Thursday registered a case of sedition and hate speech against director Aisha Sultana for calling the union territory’s administrator, Praful Khoda Patel, a “bio-weapon” being used by the Centre on the island’s people.
The case was registered based on a complaint filed by BJP’s Lakshadweep unit head C. Abdul Khader Haji.
Sultana had, during a debate on Malayalam channel MediaOne TV on the controversial reforms introduced by the Lakshadweep administrator, said that the Centre was using Patel as a “bio-weapon” on the islands.
Many BJP workers in the Lakshadweep unit were outraged by her remarks and Khader Haji filed a complaint against the filmmaker on 8 June.
On her Facebook page, Sultana said, “I had used the word bio-weapon in the TV channel debate. I have felt 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…?”
ThePrint reached Sultana via phone and text messages but there was no response until the time of publishing this report.
Speaking to ThePrint, Khader Haji said he filed a complaint against Sultana because as the administrator of the union territory, Patel, was an extension of the central government and, therefore, the same as the Centre. So calling him a bio-weapon was talking about the Centre as well, he said.
Speaking on the draft laws brought in by Patel that have triggered a controversy, Khader Haji said: “He (Patel) is working for the benefit of the people only. He wants to develop Lakshadweep and make it a tourist hotspot like Dubai.”
Among the many critics of Patel’s policies is Mohammad Faisal, the NCP MP from the union territory, who told ThePrint that the “administrator goes after anyone who speaks against him”.
On Sultana’s remarks, Faisal said, “In the TV debate she used the word bio-weapon against Patel, she did not mention either the Centre or any other government. She has only spoken against Praful Patel. This is merely a way of targeting her and trying to intimidate her.”
The draft laws
Sultana, who hails from the Chettiah Islands in Lakshadweep, has actively been speaking against Patel’s draft policies. On her Facebook page, she has criticised Patel and his policies, as well as organised hunger strikes.
Patel was appointed the Lakshadweep administrator in December 2020 after the death of Dineshwar Sharma. He is also in charge of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu.
After 11 months of zero Covid cases, Lakshadweep reported its first case in January this year. The union territory now has over 9,000 active cases. Many have said Patel’s decision to lift quarantine policies led to a surge in cases in the archipelago of islands.
The legislation introduced by Patel includes the Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 (LDAR) — which gives the administrator powers to remove or relocate islanders from their property, for town planning or any developmental activity; the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA), under which a person can be detained without any public disclosure for a period of up to one year; and the draft panchayat notification, where a member with more than two children is disqualified from being a member.
Several politicians from Lakshadweep and Kerala have written to President Ram Nath Kovind, requesting him to call back Patel.
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