Lakshadweep, the group of 36 islands is located 400 km away from Malabar coast. The Island is full of exotic and sun-kissed beaches and lush green landscape. It is known for its beautiful Lagoons and coral reefs. ‘Kavaratti’ the capital of Lakshadweep is also known as ‘Coral paradise’.
India’s smallest Union Territory Lakshadweep is an archipelago consisting of 36 islands with an area of 32 sq km. The territory comprises of 12 atolls, three reefs, five submerged banks and ten inhabited islands. The islands have a total area of 32 sq km. All Islands are 220 to 440 km away from the coastal city of Kochi in Kerala, in the emerald Arabian Sea. The natural landscapes, the sandy beaches, abundance of flora and fauna and the absence of a rushed lifestyle enhance the mystique of Lakshadweep.
Politically, Lakshadweep is very different from rest of the country. These Islands are represented by a Member of Parliament in Lok Sabha who is Mohammad Faizal of NCP currently. They have local self government or Panchayats and an administrator appointed by the President of India. The residents of Lakshadweep Islands take pride in the way they follow their cultural traditions while maintaining and preserving the rich treasure of abundant wildlife.
The Islands have special provisions that are different from rest of the country. Special permission is required from the administration for non-residents to visit the Islands. Also, Liquor is banned in all the places in these Islands. There are restrictions on outsiders buying land here. Recently there has been widespread protests in these Islands and the #savelakshadweep has flooded the social media posts.
This article will provide you with all the insights about ongoing protests in Lakshadweep-
These protests started after Dineshwar Sharma an IPS officer and administrator of Lakshadweep died in December 2020. From a very long time this position has always been occupied by prominent civil servants from all across the country. But this time a politician and administrator of Daman and Diu and Dadra and Nagar Haveli Praful K Patel was appointed as administrator here. Praful Patel was an MLA in Gujrat in 2007 here. In 2010 he was made Minister of State Home of Gujrat by Narendra Modi. In 2014 when Narendra Modi became Prime Minister he was made Administrator of Daman and Diu. In 2016 he was appointed as administrator of Dadra and Nagar Haveli too.
After his appointment as administrator many reforms were made without consultation of people’s representatives which the people are finding autocratic.
Beef ban – Residents of Lakshadweep are known to value beef culturally and are mostly non-vegetarian. But the administrator has closed down all dairy shops and has proposed to ban slaughter, transportation and selling of beef products.
Destroying links with Kerala- Kerala and Lakshadweep are known to have close links with their culture and traditions being alike. Located at about 175 nautical miles from Kerala, the people of Island are known to depend on Kerala for educational and medical facilities. But according to some residents administrators new decisions will allegedly destroy this link and affect the local residents.
Powers of Panchayat taken away– The Powers of Panchayat to take decisions has been taken away according to new Lakshadweep Panchayat staff rules from major sectors like Education, Healthcare, Agriculture, Animal Husbandry and Fisheries sectors. Centralizing powers in these major areas implies imposing decision of single person over residents of Island which violated the very essence of Democracy. Also, persons having two or more than two children have been made ineligible to contest elections which will make most of the people to participate in decision making process. Island which has neither a high fertility rate nor overpopulation has been imposed with such law.
Rising Coronavirus cases– Lakshadweep till previous year was the only place in India with zero Covid-19 cases. This was because of the stringent rules of testing and 14 days Quarantine. But when rules were changed by administrator demanding only RT- PCR report before entering Island coronavirus cases began surging and according to the reports have crossed 6000 marks.
Prevention of Anti-Social activities law– According to this new law anyone can be detained without public disclosure for upto one year. Lakshadweep Development authority regulation- This reform would allow for orderly progressive development of land in urban and rural areas.
This will also involve building, mining, quarrying and other operations which would lead to destruction of ecologically rich Island. This would also allows for a ‘plan’ which will indicate land or zones that can be identified for parks, industries, residential or commercial use, national highways, arterial roads and so on. Under section 72, it also gives power to the Planning and Development Authority to evict anyone who is found to occupy land under a final scheme formulated under the proposed law. “If the Planning and Development Authority is opposed or impeded in evicting such person or taking possession of the land from such person, the District Magistrate shall, at the request of the Planning and Development Authority, enforce the eviction of such person or secure delivery of possession of the land to the Planning and Development Authority,” the draft says.
The residents of Lakshadweep have been protesting for a few months now. The way in which cultural and territorial rights of these people have been harmed is mindless and will harm the only ecologically flourished place Lakshadweep.