Lakshwadeep is the smallest UT in India, most popularly known for its sandy white beaches with crystal blue waters and secluded lagoons.
But Lakshadweep is now in the news for all the wrong reasons. The accountability of such disturbance and row in Lakshwadeep can be credited to the new administration.
It has a population of around 60,000 people with 90% of Muslims and consists of somewhat 30 small islands. Once a peaceful area is now facing disruption because of the capitalistic, islamophobic and exploitative mentality of politicians. Praful Khoda Patel, a political leader of BJP presents the ideological projects as an idea for development. But these actions by him might not be the source of prosperity for the residents of the island.
Unlike Delhi and Puducherry, this union territory has no legislative assembly nor a Chief Minister. The President of India appoints an administrator to govern the whole territory.
Until 2020 this responsibility was given to bureaucrats. In December 2020, a politician got the responsibility of the administration there. While the politician was brought in for the island’s welfare, the residents haven’t been much pleased with his decisions.
Praful Khoda Patel | Lakshwadeep Row
Before digging deep into the main cause, let’s have a brief history of Praful Khoda Patel.
In 2014, when the current government came into power, Praful Khoda Patel was allocated the administration of Daman And Diu. In 2019, the administration of Dadar and Nagar Haveli was also allocated to him.
There were several instances in his tenure, where the houses on the seafront land were demolished in the name of progression. This step led to protests by the dwellers of the union territory.
What is Happening in Lakswadeep Right Now?
Since December 2, 2020, when the administrator, took charge of the Union Territory, Patel has issued a series of orders, which haven’t sat too well with the island dwellers.
1. Spike in Covid cases: from Zero to 7000+
In 2020 Lakshadweep was one of the few areas in India, which was unscathed from the grasps of the coronavirus. As in Lakshwadeep, there were strict and mandatory quarantine rules for travellers.
But in 2021, more than 7,000 cases have been reported there. Citizens of Lakshadweep alleged that the spike was due to a change introduced in the covid management protocol by a new administrator Praful K Patel. The change was, that anyone could enter within 48 hours of getting a negative RT-PCR test.
Thus, this proved that such ignorant politicians can work as a catalyst in making the Covid related situation worse. Just like political leaders who organized rallies all over the country and gave permission for ‘Kumbh Mela’ to take place, here also the leader is running from accountability.
Patel claimed that such a surge in cases is ‘natural’ as in Kerela to which Lakshadweep has strong links also witnessed the increase in cases. But that is evidently baseless, as he was the one who changed the earlier protocols.
2. Goonda Act
Patel’s administration has proposed to enact the ‘Goonda Act’ (prevention of anti-social activities bill) which allows a person to be detained without public disclosure for up to a year.
This island already witnesses a very low crime rate. A question that comes up is- What is the need for such an ‘act’ to be implemented?
Just like UAPA, TADA, and Prohibition of Unlawful Religious Conversion Ordinance (Love jihad) this unnecessary implementation of the act could be interpreted as a means for misuse to disrupt the uprise of resistance against the incumbent administration, as concluded by experts.
3. Prioritising Alcohol Over Beef
A proposal to ban beef while removing the alcohol sale led to outrage on the island, which has a Muslim dominated population. This particular step is being as a step to hurt the sentiments of the population there. The administration also invited criticism for stopping non-vegetarian food in school midday meals.
4. Disruption in the name of Development?
The ‘Development’ agenda was one of the most controversial changes that were proposed.
It is a law that gives sweeping powers to the administration to take over private property for developmental activities. Critics said that this might leave people at risk of eviction and relocation and that unchecked construction could threaten the ecological balance of the islands. Patel argues that these laws were necessary to bring in development and to create a smart city in the atolls.
But, is there truly a need for resources to be used for a smart city, when people of an already beautiful island are fine with what they have?
Prioritizing development over the sanctity of the ecosystem is one of the causes of spoiling the harmony in the world. While the world battles climate change and the rising sea levels, this step might just contradict the effort being made by hurting the ecological balance of the islands.
Victims of The Lakshwadeep Row
During the row in Lakshwadeep, we witnessed how an entry of a single person disturbed, disrupted, and even ended the lives of the people on the island.
In a place where the existence of COVID was negligible, the cases have risen to 7,000.
The work of politicians is to govern and maintain harmony in the system. But when the introduction of such acts and bills makes the people of the state insecure about their existence, then it might not be a step worth taking.