Indian film producer Lakshadweep accused of “biological weapons” remarks | Environmental News


A local film producer in the Lakshadweep Islands of India claimed that the administrator of the federal territory was a “biological weapon” used by the government against the residents of the island, so the police charged her with sedition.

Indian media reported on Friday that after a local politician of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) belonging to Prime Minister Narendra Modi filed a complaint, the case against Aisha Sultana has been in the main island and capital of Lakshadweep Registered at the police station in Kavaratti.

The BJP’s complaint cited a Malayalam TV channel program about Lakshadweep’s controversial government plan. In the program, Sultana reportedly stated that the Modi government is using the island administrator Praful Khoda Patel as ” Biological weapons”.

Patel, 63, was the first non-bureaucratic chief executive of the Lakshadweep Islands. He was the Interior Minister of Modi’s hometown of Gujarat. At that time, the Prime Minister of India served as the country’s chief minister for more than a decade.

The Lakshadweep Islands, which are popular with tourists, are managed by an administrator appointed by the President of India.

Since taking over the Lakshadweep government in December last year, Patel has passed a Lots of new laws and proposals -No consultation with local elected representatives-The only Muslim-majority territory in India other than India-controlled Kashmir.

Lakshadweep is an idyllic archipelago composed of 36 islands, 10 of which are inhabited, spread over a sea area of ​​32 square kilometers, about 200 kilometers (124 miles) from the southwest coast of the Indian peninsula.

It is the smallest of India’s eight “United Territories” (UTs), with a population of 65,000-97% of which are Muslim-and they are now worried about losing their land, livelihoods and other rights because the government supports a plan to develop this remote archipelago. Tourist center.

Proposals for a new town planning law to make way for tourism, luxury housing and deep-sea mining projects will give Patel the right to remove or relocate islanders from designated development areas by declaring the land as a “planned” area.

Other controversial proposals include banning cattle slaughter and allowing more liquor licenses, which are seen as offending local Islamic religious sentiments. Currently, the sale and consumption of alcohol is basically prohibited on the island.

Other proposals include disqualifying people with more than two children from participating in village assembly elections. According to Patel’s proposal, the government can also imprison anyone for up to one year without trial.

As COVID-19 restrictions prevent them from taking to the streets to protest, Sultana is one of thousands of islanders on social media.

COVID crisis on the island

In a Facebook post, Sultana defended Patel’s outbreak on the TV show.

“I used the term biological weapon in the debate on the TV channel. I felt Patel and his policies [have acted] As a biological weapon,” she wrote.

“It is through Patel and his entourage that COVID-19 spread in Lakshadweep. I compare Patel to a biological weapon, not a government or a country… You should understand. What else can I call him?… “

Lakshadweep has been free of coronavirus throughout 2020 because of its weak health infrastructure and only 3 hospitals on 10 inhabited islands, so strict agreements are required.

Patel was accused of changing the quarantine agreement in January and allowing anyone who received a negative RT-PCR report 48 hours before the trip to enter the island, thereby exacerbating Lakshadweep’s COVID-19 crisis.

A week after the rule change, the territory reported its first coronavirus case on January 17. According to the Maktoob news website, as of Thursday, the island has recorded more than 9,000 cases and more than 40 deaths.

#SaveLakshadweep

The Twitter activity initiated by the students has gained attention in the Indian mainland, and #SaveLakshadweep has the support of prominent politicians including the main opposition leader Rahul Gandhi.

This week, the residents’ organization Save Lakshadweep Forum held a one-day hunger strike to protest the new land acquisition plan, which aroused the fear of expulsion of approximately 65,000 people on the island.

“For generations, we have lived a peaceful life and rarely protested against the mainland’s policies… But if they take my land and home, where will we all go?” Sakariya, a fisherman who used a name, said on the phone .

Like many local fishermen, his only asset is the family house his grandfather built on a piece of land of approximately 1,000 square feet (93 square meters) near the island’s capital, Kavaratti, on the beach.

“This is not a big city where people can be resettled nearby. For us, this may mean having to move to the mainland. How can we let anyone take our home?” he said.

Protesters also worry that these plans may put pressure on the island’s already limited public services, including a lack of clean drinking water, medical care, and access to the mainland.

Lakshadweep administrator Praful Patel did not respond to a request for comment, but another senior official, collector S Akser Ali, recently told reporters that the goal is to develop the islands “as a whole”, taking into account the welfare of the residents.

But in Muslim-majority territories, distrust and anger against Hindu nationalist governments are widespread.

K Nizamuddin, a member of the Kavalati Self-Government Agency, said that the authorities’ recent removal of fishermen’s beach huts would only exacerbate mistrust, and Kavalati reimagined it as a “smart city” in the development plan.

Nizamuddin said that part of the problem is that residents have not been properly informed of these plans.

“We have not been consulted, and most islanders have no idea what the future will bring. If drastic changes are about to happen, they should be informed,” he said.

“In a smart city, space must be provided for traditional livelihoods such as local fishermen and animal husbandry. On the contrary, the authorities have destroyed fishermen’s sheds on the beach, saying it violates the norm. So there is distrust.”

Lawyer R Rohith said that according to the draft regulations promoted by Patel, residents must also obtain planning permission before making minor changes to their houses.

“In other areas, it seems normal for the government to requisition land for projects such as road construction, but on the islands, it does not do so,” Roxis said, referring to laws designed to protect the rights and land of islanders. Fragile ecosystem.

Last month, the Legislative Assembly of Kerala, the closest to the mainland, passed a motion calling for the removal of Patel and the protection of people’s livelihood.

“We have lived on this small land for decades. We understand the impact of disrupting this ecology better than anyone. Officials should listen to us,” said Zakarya, a fisherman.





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About the Author: Agnes Zang