Aisha Sultana case: Lakshadweep administration against anticipatory bail
The Lakshadweep administration has opposed the anticipatory bail application filed by Aisha Sultana in the Kerala High Court in connection with the first information report or FIR against her in a case of sedition. The administration said Aisha Sultana’s bail application is not maintainable as the Lakshadweep based filmmaker has not pointed out any precise reason for any genuine and bonafide "reason to believe" that she will be arrested. The Kerala High Court will on Thursday hear the anticipatory bail plea filed by Aisha Sultana.
Aisha Sultana is seeking pre-arrest bail in the FIR registered by Kavaratti Police under Section 124A(sedition) and 153B (acts against national integration) of the Indian Penal Code (IPC) on the basis of a petition lodged by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP’s) Lakshadweep unit president C Abdul Khadar Haji.
She has been asked to appear before the police on June 20. Sultana has said in her plea that there is a possibility of her arrest, if she reaches Kavaratti.
C Abdul Khadar Haji’s police complaint came after Aisha Sultana called the Union territory’s administrator Praful Khoda Patel “a bioweapon deployed by the Centre” against the people of Lakshadweep as she criticised his decisions. She made the comments during a debate telecast by a Malayalam news channel on June 7.
Aisha Sultana later issued a statement on Facebook, defending herself. “I had used the word bio-weapon in one of the TV debates. I did not attack the country or the Union government. I was referring to some of the decisions of Patel which infuriated local people. Despite popular sentiment, he continues to antagonise people. As a local resident, I have every right to criticise him,” she said.
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In its statement, the Lakshadweep administration said the police examined the statements made by her during the debate available on YouTube and found that the offences under section 124 A and 153 B of the IPC are prima facie attracted. The statement was filed following the court’s directive. "She clarified, despite being cautioned by the anchor, that she stands by what she asserted and also stated that she is ready to face any actions for making such a statement," it said, according to news agency ANI.
"It is most humbly submitted that the baseless assertion by the petitioner (Sulthana) in this regard is sufficient to arouse hatred or contempt among the people of Lakshadweep towards the Government of India," it all said.
The administration said Sultana’s statement has a tendency to create disorder or disturbance of public peace by resorting to violence and noted that it can be prima facie considered as an attempt to excite disaffection among the people towards the Centre. “It also prima facie amounts to an assertion prejudicial to national integration," it said.
The set of orders passed by Praful Khoda Patel, which locals and critics have said will destroy the unique culture and tradition of the 36-island archipelago, have triggered a controversy and a political storm. Over a dozen leaders from Lakshadweep quit the BJP last week protesting against the sedition charges slapped Aisha Sultana. The Kerala assembly has passed a resolution seeking the recall of the administrator.
Lakshadweep residents have been protesting against some of the decisions of the administrator for more than a month now. They are up in arms against three draft regulations that propose to develop the island as a major tourist destination, goonda act and a plan to restrict the slaughtering of cattle. They also allege these regulations will destroy the islands’ character and identity since 97% of the islands are covered by forests and 95% of its Muslim population belong to the protected scheduled tribe category.
As Praful Khoda Patel arrived in the archipelago on Monday, residents of Lakshadweep observed a black day to protest against his week-long visit. On his part, Patel said that the troubles in the island were incited by a section of people from Kerala, who have vested interests and that the island had failed to develop in the last seven decades unlike the rest of the country.
(With agency inputs)