The last time Lakshadweep was caught in the eyes of the storm was in 1987, when late PM Rajiv Gandhi had misused his position and even treated India's warship INS Viraat as a personal taxi for a family holiday, which included Sonia Gandhi's Italian relatives!! Just saying! Anyway, the storm today is quite attention seeking and significant after widespread resentment in Lakshadweep over a slew of 'bad law proposals'.
Before moving forward to understand the so called 'bad law proposals', it is important to note that the resentment in Lakshadweep is caused, backed and supported by the Islamists. So, in a desperate attempt to stop the Administration from introducing reforms to the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, Islamists have opened their propaganda warfare against the administrator Praful Patel and the Union government accusing Patel of undermining the ‘Islamic character’ of Lakshadweep where Muslims constitute 96 per cent of the total population.
Patel has been trying to prioritise the UT’s development and improve the tourism opportunities of the Island. He has also taken initiatives to improve the security of Lakshadweep due to its strategic importance. As the reports suggest, the had been extensive growth in consumption of drugs and alcohol among the youth of Lakshadweep. After taking responsibility as the administrator of Lashwadweep in December 2020, Praful Patel has conducted 18 raids across the UT to fight the drug menace and also imposed the Goonda Act keeping in mind the motto to completely shut the smuggling and distribution of alcohol and drugs. Anti-CAA, NRC posters placed by radical Islamist outfits have also been brought down throughout the Islands.
The Islamists, using social media this week have suddenly started to propagate false information about the decisions taken by the administrator and its impact on the Island. They allege that the administration’s decision to relax quarantine norms has resulted in the surge of COVID-19 cases in Lakshadweep. However, the surge there has been due to two main reasons- the increased movement of people with economic activity resuming and the 'very high' transmission rate of the new strain. Anyway!
Further, while the Islamists claim the island to be crime-free, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has raised concerns of illegal berthing of foreign vessels and poor handling of foreign vessels by the police agencies. In recent weeks, Rs 3000 crore worth of drugs were seized by the Coast Guard off Minicoy Island. A Sri Lankan fishing boat Ravihansi with 300 kgs Heroin and 5 AK-47 rifles with 1,000 live rounds was also caught by the security agencies. Earlier, in 2019, there were intelligence reports which suggested the movement of 15 ISIS terrorists from Sri Lanka to the Lakshadweep Islands.
As online campaigns to 'save Lakshadweep' is gaining strength, celebrities including actor Prithviraj are raising their voice in solidarity, Elamaram Kareem, Rajya Sabha MP, has written to President Ramnath Kovind urging him to recall the administrator. Kareem’s plea is in reference to the recent ‘Lakshadweep Animals Preservation Regulation’ that bans cattle slaughter and trade which he said was proposed with scant regard for the islanders’ choice of food and livelihood. He also decried the move to lift the restriction on use of alcohol in the Union Territory. Do they even know what are they quarrelling for?
How does really thinking of total development of the island make Patel authoritarian? Does it make him draconian? Oppressive? God! With the caps put up on the social media platforms in India, wish if there could be any way, any method to put self cap, realising the reality before thinking, talking, tweeting, posting on social media. This would have done anything but kept away the vested interest groups along with the support of radical Islamist organizations to create a communal rift in society in the name of Lakshadweep. The union territory of Lakshadweep is an integral part of India. Why portray it as a separate entity? In point in fact, in sooth, there need to #SaveLakshwadeep!