Some Islamists backed by Kerala politicians in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep have unleashed propaganda warfare against Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Patel and his administration in a desperate attempt to block new reforms.
As per an exclusive report by the Organiser, the Islamists accuse Patel of trying to undermine the ‘Islamic character’ of Lakshadweep where Muslims constitute 96% of the total population.
Social media is also actively being used to propagate misinformation claiming that the rise in new Covid-19 cases on the island is due to the administration’s decision to relax quarantine norms. However, Collector Asker Ali in an interview with The Print refuted the claims and informed that it was wrong to blame the surge in cases entirely on the relaxation in quarantine measures.
He cited the increased movement of people with economic activity resuming and the “very high” transmission rate of the new strain’ as the two main reasons for the rise in coronavirus cases.
Reforms brought by Praful Patel
As per the report, alcohol and drug addiction among the youth in the UT has been on the rise. Immediately after assuming responsibility in December 2020, Praful Patel had conducted 18 raids across the UT to fight the growing menace.
Additionally, Goonda Act was imposed in the Union Territory to restrict the smuggling and distribution of alcohol and drugs.
The administration also had pulled down Anti-CAA/NRC posters placed by radical Islamist outfits throughout the island.
Patel has reportedly been trying to bring in infrastructure and development projects in the Islands, aiming to boost its tourism potential.
Many social media handles were seen opposing the reform policies of Patel, terming his administration as ‘fascist’. Usual suspects who peddle anti-BJP propaganda on social media were also seen propagating the hashtags against Patel.
The brutal Gujarati plans from 2 Gujaratis are being implemented in Lakshadweep— RiJOY😷 (@iamrijoy) May 24, 2021
The former Gujarat HM Praful Patel is destroying the peaceful island for his masters. His masters are eager to do this for the corporates who funds their party#SaveLakshadweep from Crony Capitalism pic.twitter.com/xmy6JHaRNI
The centre is so hellbent on sowing division among cohesive Lakshadweep community. Weird new measures are being enacted by current Praful Patel administration to the detriment of predominantly Muslim indigenous population. This is a blatant misuse of power and must not be allowed— E.T Muhammed Basheer (@BasheerEt) May 23, 2021
Among the policies of the new administration that are being opposed are, banning candidates with more than 2 children from contesting Panchayat polls, a rule that is already in use in several states, the removal of illegal storage facilities along the coast, and the strict order to boat owners against leasing/renting their boats to individuals without proper permission from authorities.
Addressing security threat
While the Islamists claim the island to be crime-free, the Intelligence Bureau (IB) has raised concerns of illegal berthing of foreign vessels and poor handling of foreign vessels by the police agencies.
In recent weeks, Rs 3000 crore worth of drugs were seized by the Coast Guard off Minicoy Island. A Sri Lankan fishing boat Ravihansi with 300 kgs Heroin and 5 AK-47 rifles with 1,000 live rounds was also caught by the security agencies.
In 2019, there were intelligence reports which suggested the movement of 15 ISIS terrorists from Sri Lanka to the Lakshadweep Islands.
CPIM and Congress leaders extend support to Islamists
As per the Organiser report, As Islamist organizations gear up for ‘protests’ against the administration, CPIM leader and Rajya Sabha MP Elamanam Kareem has written a letter to President Ram Nath Kovind extending support to the protests against Patel and urging him to recall the Lakshadweep administrator.
Kerala Congress leader VT Balram too announced solidarity with these ‘protests’. Sensationalizing the issue, he alleged that the ‘Sangh parivar’ is trying to ‘turn Lakshadweep into Kashmir’.
As protests flare-up in the region, actor Prithviraj Sukumaran on Monday came out in the support of the people of the Union Territory drawing the attention of the authorities.
Promoting Lakshadweep as a tourist destination
Patel administration has been trying to prioritize development, boost tourism and improve the security of Lakshadweep due to its strategic importance.
With the Maldives becoming the new preferred holiday destination, the administration aims at fixing the poor infrastructure of the island to turn it into the most sought out tourist destination. However, some groups with vested interests and fundamentalist attitudes are trying to prevent development works in the islands, the report said.