On this environment day, Farook College Island Students’ Association ( FISA), a collective of Lakshadweep students studying in Farook College in Kerala’a Kozhikode district, organised a webinar titled ‘Mannu, Manushyan, Adhikaram’ (translates to Land, People, Power) to extend its support for Lakshadweep people who are protesting against the draconian regulations proposed by current UT administrator Praful K Patel.
With about 80 participants, several key issues emerged during the discussion among Panelists. It was conceded by everyone that the newly proposed draft of reforms in Lakshadweep is an absolute encroachment upon the islander’s rights. The key participants in the webinar included Lakshadweep MP, Farook college Principal, Media one Managing Director and other farook college faculties.
Over the last few weeks, draconian proposals in Lakshadweep drafted by Patel have got public anger. There is rising opposition against these reforms, where the residents view them as a threat to the social and cultural fabric of their islands.
Addressing the Webinar, Mr. P.P.Mohammed Faizal, Laksahdweep MP said that the support expressed for Lakashdweep by the keralites is appreciable. It is historical that the Kerala assembly has unanimously passed a resolution demanding the recall of the island administrator and his recent developments. He went on to say that the UN slogan of this year’s World Environment day becomes relevant in the case of Lakshadweep. “It should be noted that the proposed reforms are going to dismantle and destabilize Lakshadweep’s rich ecosystem”, he noted.
The island’s parliamentarian also said that all the new developments in the island are against the Justice Ravandreen Commission report. The report mentions that any developments in the Lakshadweep island should be in accordance with the habitat of the island. The commission also formulated a plan called Integrated Island Management plan which is to be followed for any development programs in Lakshadweep.
He further opined that it was certain to expect resistance from the islanders when these reforms were announced. Hence it was deliberate of them to implement the ‘Goonda Act’ or Prevention of Antisocial Activities Act, which mainly focuses on people who violate the public order. Following this, it will be easy for them to arrest people who protest against the administration in the name of violation of public order.
All the political parties in the island have formed a forum called Save Lakshadweep forum which is preparing for a legal fight against the administration and its reforms. One of the key demands of the forum is to take back the proposed draft and republish it in the vernacular language of the islanders. The current draft is in english which is difficult for many islanders to understand. MP also announced that the island is going for a hunger strike for 12 hours on 7th of this month demanding a callback of the new administrator Praful K Patel.
Dr. K.M.Nazeer, Farook College principal, described the administration reforms as a tool to wipe out the islanders from Lakshadweep. He said that they are one of the peaceful communities in the world with no crime reports at all. There is not even a proper hospital on the island for the residents. Ignoring all this, the new administrator is trying to establish their propaganda over the islanders. This is an occupation over the democratic structure of our country which is the advent of Fascism. Dr. Nazeer added that Farook College always received students from Lakshadweep with at least 20 students each year and hence it is the responsibility of all students and teachers of Farook College to stand with them in their cause. He also suggested that the Gandhian method of resistance should be followed to protest against these reforms.
During the keynote address, Yaseen Ashraf, the Managing Director of MediaOne TV and former faculty at Farook College, opined that these reforms are a continuation of what has happened in Kashmir. He called the reforms as ‘Tughlaq reforms’.
He also went on to say that the intent of the new administration is not the welfare of islanders, but an invasion over their land and resources. After the 2008 Mumbai attacks, there is a deliberate attempt from the far right groups to portray Muslim dominated regions as a cultivation land of Terrorists and Anti-nationals. What’s happening in Lakshadweep is also an addition to this. At the same time, he also said that it’s important to view this issue outside the line of communalism. This is an encroachment upon the constitution and democracy of our nation. There is no mandate taken from the people before drafting the new developments announced and hence it is an example of occupation like what we see in Palestine.
Dr.T.Muhammedali, Head of the department of History in Farook College, stressed upon the need for adopting the model of happiness economics in the island. He added that happiness should be the GDP of any development plans that are implemented in the country. Therefore, if the islanders are not happy with the new reforms, it should be withdrawn. He also said that what is happening now in Lakshadweep is a violation of human rights.
Towards the end of the webinar, Dr. Aziz Tharuvana, head of the department of Malayalam in Farook college and author condemned that the new administrator is trying to turn islanders into second class citizens by dismissing their rights granted in this country. He equated the land of Lakshadweep with the land of Maveli where all people were equal and free of any crimes or theft.
Aqsad saqil, the secretary of FISA, expressed his thanks for all those who joined to extend support for Lakshadweep.