Save Lakshadweep: Call to protect social, cultural, economic and environmental rights

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Adam Rizvi, N.J., TIO: A growing clarion call was given to protect the social, cultural, economic, and environmental rights of Lakshadweep from looming threat of the agenda of right-wing BJP and its allies in the central Government. This consensus emerged in an online open forum hosted by the Socialist Party (India) as part of its daily “Satyagraha” dialogue series on “Lakshadweep, the burning heart”.

Participants questioned the appointment of Administrator of Lakshadweep Praful Patel, a politician, who is not from the administrative service which is contrary to the practice so far where Lakshadweep being a Union territory had always a retired administration official as its administrator. The admissibility and permissibility of an Administrator declaring that he wants Lakshadweep to be changed like Maldives and Allocation of 700 crores for holds with 100-year lease with 260 crores of central subsidy was challenged. More than 95% population is Muslim and most of them are from the ST category.  Hence ST Act should be invoked for the loss of livelihood.

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Lakshwadeep’s ecology, culture, social fabric, and good governance have proven to be phenomenal to these islands that have a population of around 70,000, and these should be preserved not just for Lakshadweep’s sake but for the sake of the entire world. Out of 27 Lakshadweep islands, 10 of them are inhabited. Fishing and coconut harvesting is the main source of livelihood. Lakshadweep seems to be a unique place where there is no crime, no locks on doors, no liquor, and there is a commendable degree of social harmony yet the national government seems to be bent upon forcing liquor and Goonda Act on a place with the lowest crime. The federal character and fundamental rights are affected.  Why is Goonda Act introduced in a place where prisons are empty and crime is at the lowest rate?  Lakshadweep islands are surrounded by lagoons and their environmentally sensitive area.  Lakshadweep panchayats have been overridden. There are no inequities in income here. The measures forced upon the islands will threaten not just the social harmony but also the ecology and human rights of the people.

By the new rules of Lakshadweep, fundamental rights such as the right to equality Article 19, right to livelihood Article 21, and right to cultural freedom Article 29 have been trampled.

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People of Lakshadweep have formed the ‘Save Lakshadweep Forum’ and have decided to take legal recourse. But more than 700 people have been suspended from jobs while the five regulations from new administrators have been sent to the ministry for approval.

Kerala state has passed a resolution against the new administrator and rules brought in. All other states and union territories should also follow this precedence set by Kerala and stand united to save Lakshadweep.

Destroying the ecosystem of these islands is akin to destroying the life there. Lakshadweep conservation is an issue of national importance therefore an agitation should be held at the country’s capital soon.

It is important to note that the Lakshadweep islands were free from corona till the new administrator came and lifted all restrictions and now the number of people infected is around 6000.

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The right to ownership of land is also being taken away from the natives. While the local citizens do not want liquor in their islands, the new administrator introduces liquor against people’s wishes in the name of tourism.

All ‘reforms’ be canceled, the new administrator is sent back from Lakshadweep.
All party committees should be constituted.  Save Lakshadweep Save Democracy movement should be started in the country.

Bio-Diversity Act should also be invoked as in Tribal areas land alienation cannot be done as per law.

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The participants included Thampan Thomas, ex-MP, State President Socialist Party (India) Kerala; Justice Shamsuddeen, Retd judge Kerala High Court; Adiraja Muhammad Rafi, Arakkal Dynasty; Pannalal Surana, National President, Socialist Party (India); Jawed Raza, New Delhi; Neelakandan CR; Sunilam, ex-MLA, and convenor of Samajwadi Samagam; Dr. Sandeep Pandey, National Vice President, Socialist Party (India); Moidkutty Moulavi; S Rajasekharan, Advocate, National General Secretary, Socialist Party (India); Hamza Koya; John CP; Suhas Kolhekar; Kurrakose Verghese; Sasi Kumar; Sadiq, Convenor-Save Lakshadweep Forum; Lubna Sarwath, State General Secretary (Telangana), Socialist Party (India); and Manoj T Saran, National Spokesperson, Socialist Party (India) who was also the moderator.

Curated By Humra Kidwai

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