KOCHI: The support they enjoy on social media platforms for the #SaveLakshadweep campaign has come as a pleasant surprise to the residents of the archipelago. On April 28, the island administration razed the sheds built by fishermen along the coastline to keep their boats and fishing gear safe
The trials and tribulations of the residents of Lakshadweep rarely find place in the media as they live away from the mainland. But the support they are enjoying in the social media for the SaveLakshadweep campaign has come as a pleasant surprise to the residents of the archipelago. However, the attempts to paint the protests as communal has pained the island community.
It is a struggle to save our cultural heritage and livelihood, please don’t give communal colour to the protests,” said Lakshadweep district panchayat president B Hassan. District panchayat members Nizam and Thaha Malika echoed the sentiment.
“The crime rate in the islands is very low and the people here are peace-loving. Farooq Khan and Dineshwar Sharma, the former administrators appointed by the BJP government, always maintained cordial relations with the islanders and consulted us on administrative matters. However, the present administrator is authoritative and never gives an ear to our grievances. He has taken away five departments including education, health, agriculture and fisheries from the district panchayat,” Hassan said.
The administrator changed the standard operating procedure for Covid prevention by reducing the quarantine days, which led to a spike in Covid cases, pointed out Thaha “The island did not have a single Covid case till January 2021. Now, we have 7,200 cases and 26 deaths. We had taken out a protest march to the district collector’s office in January. We were detained and remanded for 14 days. Two district panchayat members and the Kavaratti village panchayat chairman were among those jailed,” he said.
On April 28, the island administration razed the sheds built by fishermen along the coastline to keep their boats and fishing gear safe. The gear were set on fire by the officials. The government action was launched at midnight when the people were forced to stay indoors as curfew was imposed.
“They razed the temporary sheds erected by us on the seashore and set our fishing gear on fire. As the sheds were demolished, there was no way to keep the boats secured when cyclone Tauktae hit the island. As many as 78 boats were destroyed in the cyclone. We have lost our livelihood and there is no help from the authorities,” lamented Sakhariya, a fisherman in Kavaratti.
“Lakshadweep is open to the vagaries of nature and the sea can turn rough any time. When cyclone Tauktae hit the islands, the fishing gear including boat engine and nets were set on fire by the authorities. The fishermen have lost their livelihood,” said Nizam. The termination of the service of temporary workers, change in standard operating procedure for airlifting critically ill patients, land regulation which gives the administration the power to take over any landholding for development, ban on beef and beef products and the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation amount to denial of human rights, said Lakshadweep People’s Rights Forum president T K Thamis.
BJP Lakshadweep executive committee member PM Koya too said the reforms were provocative and have caused concern among the islanders. He said the Union government should intervene to withdraw the reforms and restore peace in the islands.
MUSLIM LEAGUE LAUNCHES STATEWIDE PROTEST
Malappuram: As part of IUML’s nationwide protest against the undemocratic policies of the Lakshadweep administrator, the party leaders will lead protests in front of the central government offices in the state on Friday. IUML state president Panakkad Hyderali Shihab Thangal will inaugurate the protest meet to be held at the Malappuram passport office. Sayyid Munavvar Ali Shihab Thangal, Sayyid Sadik Ali Shihab Thangal and MP Abdussamad Samadani will participate in the protest. Ponnani MP E T Mohammed Basheer and IUML acting state secretary P M A Salam will inaugurate the protest meet to be held at the Lakshadweep administrator office in Kochi. IUML state general secretary P K Kunhalikutty will participate in the protest of the MLAs against the Lakshadweep administrator in Thiruvananthapuram.
ASSEMBLY TO DISCUSS RESOLUTION
T’Puram: The assembly is all set to pass a unanimous resolution, expressing the state’s concerns about the developments in Lakshadweep. Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan said here on Thursday that there wouldn’t be any difference of opinion in the state regarding the issues in Lakshadweep. “We have initiated steps for that,” he replied when asked about the chances for a resolution in the assembly. Earlier in the day, Speaker M B Rajesh said that he is open to the idea of discussing a resolution seeking the removal of the Lakshadweep administrator in the state assembly.
“Let the business advisory committee take a decision,” he told reporters here. It is learnt that leaders from treasury benches have initiated talks with opposition to frame a proper resolution so that all parties can stand united to support it. A source said the resolution will call for rolling back anti-people policies allegedly initiated by the Lakshadweep administration. On Friday, Governor Arif Mohammed Khan will deliver the policy address of the new government in the assembly. It is unlikely that the house will take up other business on the day of the Governor’s address. The resolution on Lakshadweep is likely to be presented on May 31.