The December 28 decision by the administration has been taken to prevent terror or smuggling activities out of these uninhabited islands which have temporary structures for housing laborers for harvesting coconuts.
The administration, in its order, has cited apprehensions that among the laborers there could also be persons who engage in illegal, anti-social, and anti-national activities, like smuggling or hiding weapons or narcotics in these islands.
The administration has cited apprehensions that among the laborers there could also be persons who engage in illegal, anti-social, and anti-national activities, like smuggling or hiding weapons or narcotics in these islands.
Is an idyllic archipelago of 36 islands – 10 of them inhabited – spread over a 32-square-kilometer area in the sea, about 200 km off the southwestern coast of the Indian Peninsula.
Residents in the smallest among India’s eight “Union Territories” (UTs), with a population of 65,000 people – 97 percent of them Muslims – are fearful of a series of moves by its right-wing administrator appointed by the federal government.
Praful Khoda Patel, who belongs to Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), is the first non-bureaucrat administrator of the Lakshadweep Islands. Patel once served as the home minister of Gujarat state when Modi was its chief minister.
Since he took over the Lakshadweep administration in December last year, Patel has pushed through a slew of new laws and regulations without consulting locally elected representatives in India’s only Muslim-majority territory apart from Indian-administered Kashmir.
Residents say the proposals threaten their livelihoods, land ownership, culture, and even the fragile ecology of the tropical islands.
The controversial proposals range from a ban on beef, and the disqualification of people with more than two children who wish to contest the village council elections, to taking over land belonging to the locals for the purpose of development without safeguarding the interests of the landowners.