Filmmaker Aisha Sulthana has been booked on sedition charges in Lakshadweep for critiquing the government and stating that a ‘bioweapon’ had been used against the Union Territory.

Sulthana was speaking in a news debate on Media One, a Malayalam news channel, on the measures brought in by the Lakshadweep administration and that has seen protests rock the island for over a month now.

The complaint was filed by BJP Lakshadweep chief Abdul Khader claiming that she had spread false news about the spread of Covid-19 in the UT during this debate. Sulthana had said, what many others including politicians have been saying now, that earlier the islands were free of the pandemic and that now more than 100 cases were being reported on a daily basis. They blamed the new measures brought in by the administrator for this, referring to the early relaxation of quarantine measures after Praful Patel took charge.

Sulthana is also a model and an actor. Khader alleged in his formal complaint to the police that the filmmaker’s allegation was an “anti national” act and hence action should be taken against her.

The filmmaker had said that a ‘bio weapon’ had been used by the administrator and questioned the decision to remove the restrictions that she said had exposed the island to increased infection.

Since then Sulthana posted on Facebook, “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?".

After the BJP held protests against her she reiterated again on Facebook saying that the BJP leader who had filed a case had betrayed Lakshadweep, his “homeland”. She went on to add, “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 tried to oppress me. My voice is only going to be louder again.”

The entire Opposition has launched a scathing attack on the Lakshadweep administration and Praful Patel claiming that his reforms for the islands will “destroy” its heritage. In a united voice, also bolstered by former civil servants separately through a statement, the Opposition has demanded the recall of Patel.

He has lifted restrictions on the use on alcohol in what are essentially Muslim majority islands, he has banned beef products, and demolished fishermen sheds built on the coastal areas as some of the many measures taken in recent times.

Kerala chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan tweeted, even as most of Kerala protested, “"News reports from Lakshadweep are quite serious. Challenges imposed on their lives, livelihoods and culture cannot be accepted. Kerala has a strong relationship, a long history of cooperation with Lakshadweep. Unequivocally condemn devious efforts to thwart it. Perpetrators should desist.”

Letters have been written by political leaders to President Ram Nath Kovind asking him to “urgently '' intervene in this issue. The BJP, on the other hand, has claimed that ‘radical outfits’ are behind this “deliberate effort to defame the Modi government and the Lakshadweep administration.” And the Keral unit president of the party K.Surendran has alleged that terrorists are targeting the islands.

The sedition charges against the young filmmaker have led to a strong protest on the social media

Filmmaker Ayesha Sulthana booked for sedition for spreading 'false' news on  COVID-19 in Lakshadweep