What is Lakshadweep controversy? Why are residents of Lakshadweep staging protests? Why are Lakshadweep reforms triggering controversy?
As BJP member and Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel introduced new reforms, it caused a huge turmoil among the island residents. The archipelago of 36 islands has turned out to be a new political flashpoint. Lakshadweep residents consider the new reforms a threat to the island’s culture, livelihood, and people.
The islanders are staging protests and some politicians are also joining the chorus of protests. The new laws would be implemented once President Ram Nath Kovind had given his assent to the reforms. UT administrator Patel justifies the reform measures by saying that the new reforms are introduced to lay the foundation for the future of island in planned way and to develop the island like Maldives.
Three Controversial Draft Laws
- Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (PASA) popularly known as Goonda Act
- The Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021
- The Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021
Reasons Why Lakshadweep Residents Are Protesting Against Draft Laws
- Section 3 of the PASA Act gives the administrator the power to detain anyone upto one year if the offender’s actions “adversely affect the maintenance of public order. The protestors called the law unwarranted and uncalled for citing the reason that there is a very low crime rate in Lakshadweep.
- Around 96.5 percent of Lakshadweep’s population is Muslim. Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021 bans the slaughter of cows, calves, bulls, and bullocks citing the reason that the government wants to preserve milch animals. The law also prohibits buying, selling, transportation, or storing beef or beef products in any form. Non-vegetarian food has already been removed from school midday meals and hostel dining halls.
- The laws also lifted the restrictions on the use of liquor in Lakshadweep. In accordance with the religious and cultural beliefs of the community, alcohol consumption was banned on the island.
- Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 empowers the government to acquire, alter, and transfer landed properties owned by Lakshadweep residents. Under this law, the government can take any piece of land owned by any common man on the island for “development” purposes.
- The new laws disqualify a person with more than 2 children from getting elected in the Gram Panchayat elections considered as an apparent move against Muslims.
- Also, Patel has announced that boats and dhows from Lakshadweep will now only head for Mangalore in neighbouring Karnataka instead of their traditional destination of Beypore harbour in Kerala’s Kozhikode district. The decision is considered as a move to end a long lasting trade relation between the island and Kerala.
Kerala Lawmaker Hibi Eden Urges President, PM, and HM to Save the Island (May 25)
Congress leader and Kerala MP Hibi Eden had written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah to protect the interests and cultures of the islanders.
“Majority of the 70000 people in this Island depend on fishing and government services, but the new administration demolished huts of fisherman accusing Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violation,” wrote Eden.
Kerala CM Pinarayi Vijayan Tabled Resolution in Support of Lakshadweep (May 31)
Kerala Legislative Assembly on May 31 unanimously passed a resolution in support of Lakshadweep and demanded the recall of UT administrator Praful Khoda Patel. The resolution sought the Centre’s intervention to protect the lives and livelihood of the islanders.
“There was an attempt to destroy the indigenous lifestyle and ecosystem in the archipelago and implement the ‘saffron agenda’ through the backdoor. The attempt is to impose and implement the saffron agenda and corporate interests in Lakshadweep,” Vijayan said.
93 Bureaucrats Wrote to PM Modi against Administrator’s “Partisan Attitude” (June 5)
93 retired bureaucrats sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra in which they criticized the partisan attitude of the Union Territory administrator and called the drafted laws ‘arbitrary’.
Hunger Strike against LDAR on June 14
Lakshadweep residents observed a 12-hour hunger strike on Monday demanding to repeal the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR) and the recall of administrator Praful Khoda Patel.
Multiple protests are being witnessed in Lakshadweep after UT’s administrator started implementing reform measures.
Lakshadweep Actor-Model Aisha Sultana Booked Under Sedition for ‘Bio-Weapon’ Remark on June 11
Lakshadweep Police has booked filmmaker Aisha Sultana on sedition charges for calling Union Territory’s administrator, Praful Khoda Patel a “bio-weapon” launched by the Centre government to spread Covid-19 on the island. She has been booked under Section 124 A (sedition) and Section 153 B (hate speech) of the Indian Penal Code.
The complaint was filed by BJP’s Lakshadweep unit president Abdul Khader who alleged that Sultana’s was an anti-national act, which tarnished the “patriotic image” of the central government.
“Now to the people of Lakshadweep: The sea protects you, and you protect it in return. What the betrayers have and what we don’t is fear,” Sultana responded to the news.
BJP Leaders Resigned Over Sedition FIR against Sultana
Calling the charges “false and unjustified”, 15 leaders and party workers of the BJP tendered their resignation. 12 leaders and workers signed a letter to Party’s Lakshadweep Chief C Abdul Haji.
“The BJP in Lakshadweep is fully aware of how the present Administrator Patel’s actions are anti-people, anti-democracy and causing extreme suffering among people,” the letter said.