“Some of the maverick acts proposed by its new administrator Praful Khoda Patel that has made Lakshadweep, celebrated as an oasis of peace and tranquillity, into a disquiet land simmering in protests.”Nidheesh MK
“Patel soon started taking measures which upset the local Muslim population of Lakshadweep, that forms 97 per cent of the total population in the Union Territory”. Syed Firdaus Ashraf
“He (Patel) is doing everything against the culture of Lakshadweep, whose 99 per cent habitants are Muslims. And, therefore, people are objecting to these moves and things have come to a very frantic state now.” Elamaram Kareem M.P CPM
Lakshadweep is an Indian union territory of an archipelago of 36 islands in the Arabian sea. According to the Indian census 2011, the population of these islands are about 65,000 with 99.5% Muslimswho are ethnically, linguistically and culturally like the people of Kerala state, India. Their traditional occupation includes fishing, coconut and tuna export, a society with nil crime records and one of the most peaceful societies.
These serene islands were part of Malabar District (north of today’s Kerala State) until 01 November 1956 with its capital Calicut which remained until 1964. Cargo and passenger ships connected the islands to Beypore (Calicut) and Cochin ports until Patel’s arrivalrecently. He closed these ports and now only port available for Lakshadweep residents is at Mangalore in Karnataka state, BJP ruled state. Controlling the access to the islands is seen to be as part of a larger agenda.The islanders rely on Kerala for medicine to marriage alliances.
The trouble reached these beautiful islands on 5 December 2020 when Modi sent his right-hand manPraful Khoda Patel as the politically appointed new administrator to ‘develop’ the islands.
Patel served as Gujrat state Home Minister under Modi in 2010. Traditionally the administrator position has been held by civil services officers of IAS rank. Patel is the first politically appointee to that position. Observers sense the motive behind his appointment particularly in a Muslim-majority region closelyconnected to Kerala, which vehemently rejected Hindutva politics in recent elections in the state. Is this to punish Kerala and Lakshadweep simultaneously?
Some of the actions taken by Patel in the name of “development” have been the destruction of traditional fishing facilities, banning of cow slaughter, introduction of alcohol and ruining of traditional diary production and installing of the corporate Amul diary plant.
CPM MP Elamaram Kareem in an interview said that Patel, a hardcore RSS man started his Hindutva agenda in Lakshadweep by introducing the Goonda Act to marginalise Muslim youth and control their access to casual work within the government departments.Kareem Twitted to the President of India to withdraw Patel immediately from the position.
Kerala celebrities like Prithviraj Sukumaran and others have come forward in solidarity with the islanders.
Koushik Narayanan reports some of draconian steps taken by Patel are:
1. Unplanned and unscientific altering of SoP leading to a rise in COVID-19 cases.
2. The Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation seeks to ban the slaughter, transportation, buying and selling of beef products and dairy.
3. Ending casual workers in various government departments.
4. Lifting the ban on alcohol consumption is intended to destroy harmony and trample on the religious beliefs of the people.
5. Demolished the sheds where fishermen used to keep their nets and other equipment in violation of the Coast Guard Act.
6. The islanders have been made to depend on the Mangalore port instead of the Beypore aiming at severing Lakshadweep’s ties with Kerala.
7. A new Goonda Act has been enacted despite the islands being Union Territory which have one of the lowest crime rates in India
The new elected Tamil Nadu CM extended his support to Save Lakshadweep campaign along with Kerala CM to pass resolution on Lakshadweep which is a positive and collective political movement to save the island before too late.