Prithviraj raises his voice for the people of Lakshwadeep
Lakshadweep’s newly-appointed administrator Praful Patel’s alleged undemocratic policies have lead to a large-scale uprising. Social media campaigns with the hashtag #SaveLakshwadeep have already begun. Praful Patel, a BJP leader and former Gujarat Minister, was appointed as the island administrator last December and ever since then, many existing laws have been amended unilaterally and new legislations were being drafted without consultation with the people or their elected representatives.
Up until mid-January this year, Lakshadweep was coronavirus-free. However, the standard operating procedure (SOP) which was in force for preventing the spread of the pandemic got revamped. According to the people of the island, the unplanned and unscientific altering of SOP has led to the current surge in Covid cases in Lakshwadeep, where not even a single case was reported in the year 2020. In a span of four months since then, Lakshadweep has reported around 5000 cases and 14 deaths. The active caseload at present is over 1200.
Apart from this, there are also severe allegations about the BJP leadership trying to enforce their communal agenda in the island, which has a 99% Muslim population. Hundreds of casual and contractual staff have reportedly been terminated from services from different government offices on a daily basis. The administration has also proposed to introduce a new law that calls for a complete ban on slaughter of cow, calf, bull and bullock, in addition to prohibition of sale, storage and transportation of beef or beef products in any form.
Malayali actor Prithviraj Sukumaran has now come out supporting the people of Lakshadweep. The star shares a very close bond with the people there after working in ‘Anarkali’, which was shot in the island. In a detailed Facebook post, he has urged the authorities to listen to the voice of the people of Lakshadweep. He also added that any law, reform or amendment should never be enforced for the land, but for the people of the land.
Prithviraj has written,
My first memories of this gorgeous little group of islands are from a school excursion when I was in my 6th grade. I remember being in awe of the turquoise waters and the crystal clear lagoons. Years later, I was part of the crew that brought film making back to the islands with Sachy’s ANARKALI. I spent a good 2 months in Kavarati and made memories and friends for a lifetime. Two years back I went back again to film what was probably the most challenging sequence of my directorial debut LUCIFER. None of these would have been possible if not for the wonderful, warm hearted people of Lakhsadweep.
For the last few days, I’ve been getting desperate messages from people I know and do not know from these islands, requesting and sometimes even pleading for me to do what I can to bring public attention to what is going on there. I’m not going to go on and write an essay about the islands and why the new administrator’s “reforms” seem completely bizarre. All such material should by now be easily available online for those of you interested in reading about it.
What I do know for sure though, is that none of the islanders I know, or none of those who’ve spoken to me are happy with what’s happening. I strongly believe that any law, reform or amendment should never be for the land, but for the people of the land. It’s never the geographical or political boundary that makes a country, state or a union territory but the people who live there. How does disrupting the way of life of a centuries old peaceful settlement become an acceptable means of progress? How will threatening the balance of a very delicate island ecosystem with no regard for the potential consequences pave the way for sustainable development?
I have faith in our system, and even more faith in our people. When an entire community is unhappy with decisions taken by a nominated authority, upon whose posting the people there had no say, and they vociferously bring it to the attention of the world and their government, I would like to think there is no way other than act on it.
So please, to whomsoever it may concern, do listen to the voice of the people of Lakshadweep, trust them to know what is better for their land. It’s one of the most beautiful places on earth, with even more beautiful people living there. 🙏