Why 'Save Lakshadweep' are widespread on social media now?


    Lakshadweep and the Andaman and Nicobar islands these are truly India's precious gems. The level of biodiversity, wildlife and nature that can be seen here cannot be found anywhere else in India. Generally, the garbage that you get to see on the roads of the other Indian cities is not seen here. There are few remaining places in India where nature is truly present in its purest state.

    But chants of 'Save Lakshadweep' are widespread on social media now. What's happening? What dangers are these islands facing? Come let's try to find out today.

    Lakshadweep is made of 35 tiny but beautiful islands. These islands are really small. Their total surface area is 32.62 sq km only. Lesser than that of a small town. According to the 2011 census, the total population is only about 60-70 thousand people. It is the smallest Union Territory of India. Politically, they do not have a Legislative Assembly or a Chief Minister.

    Their entire political framework is of 3 levels only. First, there is an MP in Lok Sabha from Lakshwadeep. Currently, he belongs to the NCP Party. Second, there are local self-governments in Lakshwadeep in the form of Panchayats. Third, is an Administrator appointed by the President. Who is responsible for the governance of the entire Lakshwadeep islands.

    Till 2020, the Administrator of Lakshwadeep was Dineshwar Sharma. Who was an IPS officer. Before him, there were several well-educated IAS and IPS officers who became the Administrators of Lakshwadeep. So it was a position that was generally given to bureaucrats.

    But on 4th December 2020, Dineshwar Sharma passed away. After that, instead of an IAS or IPS, a politician was appointed as the Administrator of Lakshadweep. And this politician was, Praful Khoda Patel. So, to understand any art properly one must understand the artist first. To know what's happening in Lakshadweep now we need to learn about Praful Patel first. Praful Patel started his political career in Gujrat as an MLA in 2007. In 2010, when Amit Shah was arrested by the CBI, Praful Patel was appointed the Minister of State Home of Gujrat by Narendra Modi. After this, when Narendra Modi became the Prime Minister in 2014, Praful K Patel was then appointed as the Administrator of Daman and Diu UT. There was a tradition of appointing IAS and IPS officers are Administrators here as well in this Union Territory. But then a politician was appointed. And the matter didn't end here. After that, Dadra and Nagar Haveli, which is another Union Territory, Praful Patel was appointed the Administrator of it too. He was the Administrator of 2 Union Territories. It seemed like there was a scarcity of good bureaucrats throughout the country. That one politician had to be appointed as the Administrator of two Union Territories.

    In April 2019, when elections were to be held in both the Union Territories, Caravan magazine reported that the Election Commission had issued a notice to Praful Patel. Why?      Because the then collector of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Karan Gopinathan was made a coercive request. The Election Commission admonished Praful K Patel for this. And a few months later, the officer, Kanan Gopinathan resigned. This wasn't the only controversy involving Praful K Patel. In 2019, in Daman and Diu, in Daman specifically, 90 homes were demolished. That were on sea-front land. It was done with the excuse of progress. The locals protested against it and the MP of Daman, Lalu Patel, requested the collector to restore those homes on humanitarian grounds. In response, the collector said that the people who lost their homes can apply for loans under the Awas Yojna of the Prime Minister. When the protests increased, Sec 144 was imposed. And two government schools were converted into temporary jails. To detain all the protestors.

    The next controversy happened in December 2019. The Parliament passed a Bill that both these Union Territories Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, would be merged into one Union Territory. Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. This is the name of that single Union Territory now. People expected that these Union Territories would get Statehood. Like Goa was given. Or at least a Legislative Assembly and a Chief Minister. So that it is more democratic. Instead of appointing an Administrator from some other place to handle all the governance. Leaving the people powerless to vote them out. But no, merging these two Union Territories resulted in quite the opposite. Can you guess who was the first Administrator of this new Union Territory? Praful K Patel.

    Moving forward. In February 2021, seven-time MP of Dadra and Nagar Haveli, Mohan Delkar, who is also a tribal rights activists, committed suicide in a hotel room in Mumbai. A 15 pages long suicide note was found, written in the Gujarati language. Can you guess who was named in this suicide note? Praful K Patel. His son Abhinav alleged that his father was harassed by Patel. And 25 crores were demanded. Threatening that not paying the 25 crores would lead to false cases being registered against him. Under the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act. I think this much background information would suffice for now. Let's come back to the present. Now Praful K Patel is the Administrator of not only Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu, but also of Lakshadweep. What did he do after becoming the Administrator of Lakshadweep? First, the little democracy that remained with the people living in Lakshadweep, was all taken away. Other than electing an MP once in five years, they can elect officials only at the Panchayat level. From these Panchayats, power over five different areas was taken away. In Education, Healthcare, Agriculture,Animal Husbandry, and Fisheries sectors. The power of the Panchayats over these was snatched away. Second, new Panchayat regulations were proposed people with more than 2 children would now be ineligible to contest elections in Lakshadweep. It is an extremely interesting law. The question arises that why is such nonsense law being made for Lakshadweep only? Is there any problem of overpopulation in Lakshadweep? Let's check the data here as well. The fertility rate of Lakshadweep is only 1.4. 1.4 is one of the lowest fertility rates in the entire country.   This data is published by the government's own Ministry of Health and Welfare. In this report the women literacy of Lakshadweep is one of the highest in the country at 96.5%. So why is such regulation being enforced? The local people allege that the government is doing this so that the prominent politicians can be stopped from running in the elections of Lakshadweep. Third, the people of Lakshadweep allege that Praful K Patel had spread Covid on their island. Why so? Because last year, when the country was going through the first wave, there was not a single case of Corona virus on Lakshadweep island. Because the Standard-Operating-Procedure was that every person coming into Lakshadweep had to first be tested and then had to spend 14 days in quarantine. But when Praful K Patel became the Administrator he changed the rules. The new guidelines stated that one needed a negative RT-PCR test to enter the islands.

    How did this end up? In January 2021 the first case was seen in Lakshadweep. And what is the situation now? There have been more than 6,000 cases in total and more than 24 people have died. Fourth, is the Anti-Goonda Act. Friends, what happens normally? How are law and order maintained? If the police catch someone doing anything wrong they arrest the person. The person has a trial in the court. And it is the court that decides if the person is guilty or not. Isn't it? But recently we're seeing several cases where the governments are making laws that give the police those judiciary powers. 100 years ago, a Rowlett Act was passed by the Britishers as per which any person could be arrested and jailed without a court trial.

The draft of a new law has been introduced in Lakshadweep. Called the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities, or the Anti-Goonda Act. Basically, it allows the detention of any person without public disclosure for up to one year. What was the sense behind it? Some people would think that the crime rate has been increasing by a lot in Lakshadweep. There must be so much crime that such Acts needed to be introduced. Actually The crime rate of Lakshadweep is the lowest in the entire country.

    They go against Democracy. So why these are new laws being made? The locals say that Praful K Patel will use it to jail those people who will criticize his decisions or protest against them. The powers of Panchayats were snatched away. Police Raj is enforced. But it still doesn't end here. Fifth, a new Lakshadweep Development Authority was created. It is being said that it will become easier to sell Lakshadweep's land to big corporates. And the natural biodiversity and ecosystem would be in great danger. 


    It is a minor point. But think about all the points that I told you. There is a group of islands in our country where people are very educated, air is unpolluted, there is no pollution, no garbage clean and beautiful beaches, no crime, no problem of overpopulation. There weren't even any Covid related problems until recently. The people living there fish for their livelihood in a sustainable manner. The fishing does not even reduce the population of the fishes there. Their way of fishing is much different from commercial fishing. Other than this there is a little tourism which aids in their sustenance. The beauty of the place is mesmerizing.

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