Hundreds of Lakshadweep residents, including families and leaders, are holding a Black Flag protest today to mark the arrival of their new Administrator, Praful Khoda Patel. This is his first visit since his broad reforms, some of which he suggested, generated controversy in the Union Territory and neighbouring Kerala a few weeks ago.
Locals flew black flags at home during the lockdown, and many donned black masks or badges. The All-Party Save Lakshadweep Forum organised the protest. This came just days after another demonstration over the Administrator’s allegedly “anti-people and anti-democratic” draught orders.
Dr. Muneer Manikfan, Vice Chairman of the Minicoy Village Panchayat, has written to the federal government, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah, requesting that Mr. Patel be summoned and that all problematic legislation be withdrawn. Aisha Sultana, a Lakshadweep filmmaker and activist, posted a photo of herself dressed in black and wearing a mask on Facebook. “No longer will we, the people of Lakshadweep, tolerate fascism.” she wrote in her post.
Ms Sultana was charged with sedition and hate speech after making a “bio-weapon” statement about the central government on a televised news panel. The director has already filed a complaint with the Kerala High Court, alleging that she was “falsely implicated in the case with ulterior objectives.” Her comments were made with the intention of exposing the state’s indifference, he claims.
She has applied for anticipatory bail, despite the fact that the Kavaratti police station in Lakshadweep has asked her to report on June 20. Mr Patel has yet to reply to the allegations levelled against him. Several members of the BJP’s island group’s office bearers have now resigned from the party.