From politicians to activists all demand withdrawal of case against the actor
NEW DELHI — After police in Lakshadweep filed a sedition case against actor Aisha Sultana for her ‘bio-weapon’ remarks against Islands’ Chief Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, opposition leaders, civil society groups and social media activists on Friday expressed solidarity with her and condemned the police action.
Congress politician Shashi Tharoor said the case against Sultana should be dropped. He wrote a series of tweets arguing that criticism of the government does not amount to sedition. He added that he has previously called for scraping the sedition law.
1/3 In our democracy, criticism of Govt that does not involve incitement to violence is not seditious, a principle the Supreme Court has repeatedly upheld & that various state police forces have more repeatedly ignored. The case should be dropped. https://t.co/iQp7uTs3VQ
— Shashi Tharoor (@ShashiTharoor) June 11, 2021
Activist Saket Gokhale described the FIR against Sultana as “intentional high-handedness and intimidation by the Lakshadweep administration”. Saying that the case will not stand testimony in the court, he demanded withdrawal of the FIR and initiation of “a departmental inquiry” and “appropriate action” against the police official in charge of the case.
Issued a notice to Lakshadweep Administrator @prafulkpatel & UT Police demanding:
(a) Sedition FIR against Aisha Sultana be withdrawn+classified with “C Summary”
(b) Enquiry & action against officials involved in this.
— Saket Gokhale (@SaketGokhale) June 11, 2021
Sultana hails from Chetiath island in Lakshadweep and is a model, director, script writer and actor. She has been booked for remarks she made in a TV debate on June 7. She had said that the Modi government was using Patel as a ‘bioweapon’ to spread Coronavirus on the Island.
Her remarks came in reaction to the recent slew of legal and administrative changes by the local administration which have been resented by the local population, majority of whom are Muslim. They allege that Patel, who comes from Gujarat, is forcing the changes on Islands’ people as per his own whims without taking into account the local sentiment.
The changes will give the government vast powers on land acquisition and limit business opportunities for locals. There is also a proposed ban on beef and allow Alcohol sale, otherwise banned from the last 40 years.
The case against Sultana was filed on the complaint of a local BJP leader and served to her by a sub-inspector. She has been asked by police to appear before it on June 20 in connection with the case.
Defending her remarks against Patel, Sultana took to Facebook saying: “I have felt Patel as well as his policies [have acted] as a bioweapon. 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…?”
She said “truth will win” and castigated the local BJP leader for filing the complaint against her saying he “has betrayed his motherland.
“To my fellow men: The sea protects you and you protect the sea. The one feeling the betrayers have and we don’t have is fear. You cannot subdue me. My voice will rise louder.”
Meanwhile, Lakshadweep Sahitya Pravarthaka Sangam, a literary and cultural organization, has backed Sultana and condemned the sedition case against her. According to Indian Express, the group’s spokesperson K Bhair said: “It is not proper to depict her as anti-national. She had reacted against the inhumane approach of the administrator. It was Patel’s interventions that made Lakshadweep a Covid-affected area. The cultural community in Lakshadweep would stand with her.”
Social media activists are also showing their support to her. They have started a hashtag to campaign for the withdrawal of the case.
Aisha Sultana has been speaking tirelessly about the Union govt’s draconian regulations in Lakshadweep & rights of indigenous Muslim community in islands.
The first woman filmmaker in Lakshadweep’s history, has been booked by sedition today over her remarks against Praful Patel. pic.twitter.com/SGhN62sMp8
— Aslah Kayyalakkath (@aslahtweets) June 10, 2021
— Shaik Ahmed Ibrahim Social Activist (@HydYouth) June 11, 2021