A perspective captured from Agathi Island, among the ten inhabited islands within the Lakshadweep archipelago [Biju Ibrahim/Al Jazeera]

Lakshadweep Conflict


The earlier history of the Lakshadweep is unwritten, however, some of the local traditions trace the first settlements in the Period of Cheraman Perumal, King of Kerala.  St.Unaidullah introduced Islam in the 7th century to Lakshadweep. The beginning of the colonial era and the arrival of the Portuguese made it an important place for seafarers. The Portuguese started to plunder the island. They forcibly landed on Amini to procure coir during the 16th century. Later on, the locals poisoned and killed the intruders.

The sovereignty of the island remained in the hands of the Hindu Raja of Chirakkal for few years even after the conversion of the island into Islam. Later, the administration was handed over to the Muslim House of Arakkal of Cannanore during the mid of 16th century. The battle of Seringapatam in 1799 brought these islands under the custody of the British East India company.

Lakshadweep Under Formal British Rule

In 1847, a cyclone hit the Island of Anddrot. The Raja visited the island along with British Officer William Robinson. The Raja found it hard to meet the demands of the people. Sir William then offered the Raja help in form of a loan. The arrangement continued for nearly four years until the interest started mounting. The English demanded the repayment of the loan from Raja which he was unable to pay. Finally, in 1854, the islands were handed to the British East India Company. Subsequently, the people came under formal British rule.

The seizure of the island is an illustration of the political manipulations and colonial legacies of Britain to sustain its rule in India. Their policies mainly aimed to exploit the profits through these islands. In 1912, the British brought Lakshadweep regulation which granted limited judicial authority to the islands. Moreover, a reasonable restriction on outsiders was brought into the legislation. Finally, in 1956 a union territory was formed, and the Island was named Lakshadweep in 1973.

Current Situation of Lakshadweep 

The residents of Lakshadweep hold resentment against the moves of the ruling Indian government, BJP. Series of regulations proposed by the Indian administrator has caused resentment and fear among the citizens. Praful Khoda Patel who belongs to the BJP is the first non-bureaucratic administrator of Lakshadweep. Since last year, Patel has pushed few laws and legislations without consulting the local representatives. The point to remember is that it is the only Muslim majority territory after the Indian-Administered Kashmir.

Proposals by the Administration

The proposals include the ban on beef, disqualification of people having more than two children who wish to contest the village council elections, taking over the local lands in the name of development and ignoring the interests of landowners. Residents say that these proposals are threatening to their livelihoods, landownerships and even the ecology of the island. However, the Federal Home Ministry and the opposition parties are considering the proposals. On the other hand, there is also a demand to drop the proposals.

Threats to Landownership

The most controversial legislation is Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021. This legislation enables the authorities to acquire the land to build highways, railways, and other infrastructure projects. There is a plan to build 15 meters wide roads but the citizens say that there is no need to build highways. They fear that it will destroy the ecology of the island. Moreover, section 72 of the draft allows the administration to evict a person from property that he is not entitled to occupy.

Muslims of Lakshadweep are classified as a secluded tribe and are the rarest ones who are granted quotas in government jobs. Residents also say that the Lakshadweep administration is aiming to take local executive powers of the district councils. Hence, the councils will not be able to make decisions that affect people lives including fisheries, healthcare, and education.

Beef Ban and Permission of Alcohol in Lakshadweep 

Praful Khoda Patel has also banned the sale of beef, the slaughter of cows, bulls, and calves. According to Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation 2021, no one can sell, transport or buy beef in the Muslim majority islands. The violators will face jail for up to 10 years. Patel is also opening liquor shops and bars claiming that it will attract and boost tourism. Liquor is neither socially acceptable nor culturally desirable in Lakshadweep.

Detention Without Trial

Khoda Patel has also introduced Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulations. It allows the administration to hold anyone in detention for up to one year without trial. The bill has spread anger in the citizens of Lakshadweep which has the lowest crime rate in India. Patel also charged the Congress leader MA Atta for putting a banner in Kavaratti, criticizing the CAA amendment act. Moreover, the law also grants nationality to non-Muslim minorities from Pakistan, Afghanistan and Bangladesh.

Covid Crisis

Lakshadweep remained immune from the coronavirus during the entire of 2020 because of strict healthcare protocol. People bound for islands must stay in quarantine for seven days in India and seven days in Lakshadweep. However, is it said that the COVID situation has been exacerbated due to Patel’s actions. Patel changed the protocol in January by allowing anyone’s entry after obtaining the RT-PCR report before their arrival. The island witnessed its first case after the change in protocol. Now this ratio has witnessed a surge to 7500 cases with 30 deaths.

Demand to Cancel Proposal

Currently, there is a demand to cancel the proposals and remove Patel from his position. Elamaram Kareem a member of Parliament from the Community Party of India blamed Patel for the spread of the virus. He demanded the cancellation of the anti-people proposal.

Moreover, the neighbouring state of Kerala’s chief minister also opposed Patel’s decision and regarded it as a threat to the life of Lakshadweep’s people.


The current situation in Lakshadweep is alarming for the indigenous people of the island. The anti-people proposals by the legislation have threatened the life, liberty, and property of the people. Moreover, these proposals also pose a grave threat to the culture of the Lakshadweep’s people. The mismanagement of covid 19 is also threatening the lives of the indigenous people of the island with no proper facilities. Hence the proposals are threatening the people of Lakshadweep and their indigenous culture.


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