With the reforms being announced for the Lakshadweep Islands, those perennially opposed to development have resorted to dangerous levels of fear-mongering to tarnish the central government and cast their attempts to catapult the islands towards development as malevolent. Recently, Lakshadweep-based actor and model Aisha Sultana levelled serious allegations against the government of India during a debate on Malayalam news channel MediaOne TV. Sultana alleged that the central government had used COVID-19 as a bioweapon against the people of Lakshadweep Islands.
“Before centre took care, Lakshadweep had 0 cases of COVID-19. Now, it is reporting a daily spike of 100 cases. What the centre has deployed is a bioweapon. I can say this clearly that the central government has deployed bioweapon against the people of Lakshadweep,” Sultana in Malayalam during the debate on Media One.
Aisha Sultana from Lakshadweep in a News room debate @MediaOneTVLive alleges India Govt deployed Covid as a BIO WEAPON against people of Lakshadweep.— The Communal Dentist©🇮🇳 (@dr_communal) June 8, 2021
She should not be let scott free for such a statement.
Video included with subtitles#CovidIndia #Bioweapon @HMOIndia pic.twitter.com/skHxBjSzld
In order to undermine the efforts to bring development to the Islands, Sultana tried to conceal the crumbling health infrastructure of the islands that is resulting in the increasing number of COVID-19 cases and used the surge to target the central government.
The unfounded allegations against the central government came in the wake of reforms announced by administrator Praful K Patel, who announced a slew of proposals aimed at ensuring the safety and well-being of residents, along with promoting the islands as a tourist destination on par with the Maldives.
Administrator Praful K Patel announces reforms for Lakshadweep Islands
The draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR) 2021 proposed a new law to ban cow slaughter and beef, which is in line with the prevailing law in an overwhelming number of states in India. The draft also included a two-child policy to educate people about the importance of family planning. In order to deter people from having more than 2 children, the law proposed preventing such people from becoming a member of the gram panchayat.
Another provision in the draft authorised the sale of alcoholic beverages on the islands, strictly to the resort owners, in a bid to boost tourism in the archipelago. Currently, prohibition is in place on all inhabited islands, with liquor served only at resorts on the uninhabited Bangaram island. The new regulation is aimed at attracting more tourists by allowing liquor sale in resorts on the inhabited islands of the Lakshadweep archipelago.
Besides, the draft regulation also accords the administrator the authority to “declare any area to be a planning area” on the islands, for the purpose of development, and will also allow the administrator to acquire any land required for a public purpose under the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, commonly known as the Land Acquisition Act.
The plan was to develop the Lakshadweep Islands like any other state to increase its revenues and boost its tourism. However, soon after the new regulations were introduced, a seemingly innocuous effort to steer the islands towards growth and development was politicised by the detractors, who resorted to fear-mongering and making wildly illogical and unreasonable assertions to oppose the changes proposed by Patel.
The critics of the reforms have cited the overwhelmingly Muslim population of the islands to allege that the central government is saffronising the islands under the guise of promoting reforms. However, in doing so, they are trying to preserve the Muslim dominance of the islands. Sultana seems to be among those who would rather see the Islands slide into the abyss of Islamic radicalism on the lines of Jammu and Kashmir than charting the path of growth and development. Her preposterous utterances in the news debate is a testimony to that assertion.