BJP slams Kerala Minister for supporting Ayesha Sulthana in fighting sedition case

Thiruvananthapuram: The BJP in Kerala on Monday came out against state Education Minister V Sivankutty for promising support to filmmaker Ayesha Sulthana, against whom the Lakshadweep police had recently slapped sedition charges over her alleged comment against the spread of COVID- 19 in the archipelago.

Senior BJP leader and former Mizoram Governor, Kummanam Rajasekharan termed the minister's act as "highly condemnable" and "unconstitutional".

He said legal measures had been initiated against the woman filmmaker for her remark that allegedly amounted to disrupting the communal harmony and unity of the country.

Sivankutty had told her over the phone that she could save herself from Lakshadweep police if she met him and Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, the BJP leader alleged.

"It is unconstitutional for a minister, holding the constitutional position, to intervene in a case registered in another state," Rajasekharan said.

Accusing Sivankutty of being silent over the alleged corruption and violence in his home constituency Nemom, the BJP leader said the minister's motive behind supporting such persons was understandable.

Senior CPI(M) leader and education-labour minister Sivankutty last week had called Sulthana over the phone to express his solidarity with her in her fight against alleged dictatorial and fascist policies of the Lakshadweep administrator.

In a statement issued later, the minister had said Sulthana was not alone in her fight and the entire democratic community of the country was with her.

Meanwhile, criticising the Lakshadweep police for slapping sedition charge against the woman filmmaker, state Assembly Speaker M B Rajesh has said the apex court had already ruled that only acts that cause public violence or disorder fall within the ambit of 124-A.

"International law and civilised society regard freedom of expression as paramount. At this time Ayesha Sulthana was charged with treason for making a remark against the Lakshadweep administrator during a television discussion," he said in a Facebook post.

Stating that it is high time to redefine 'patriotism' and 'sedition', Rajesh said true patriots cannot accept that 124-A, an instrument of colonial oppression, is still being imposed on the people of a country, years after it had become independent.

Lakshadweep Police, last week, had booked Ayesha Sulthana on sedition charges following a complaint by a BJP leader that she spread false news about the spread of COVID-19 in the union territory during a TV debate.

The complaint was filed by the BJP's Lakshadweep unit president Abdul Khader.

Sulthana hails from Chetiath island in Lakshadweep.

According to the FIR lodged by the Kavaratti police, a case under sections 124 A (sedition) and 153 B (hate speech) of the Indian Penal code has been registered against the filmmaker.

In his complaint filed with the Kavaratti police on Wednesday, Khader said Sulthana, during a debate in a Malayalam TV channel, had alleged that the Central government used biological weapons for the spread of COVID-19 in Lakshadweep.

Lakshadweep has been witnessing protests by various political parties since the administration started implementing reform measures in the islands.

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