I first came to Lakshadweep in 1984 with the islanders' beloved leader PM Sayeed, as per the instructions of Rajeev Gandhi, then prime minister of India. I landed at Kavaratti, intending to study the social conditions of the island communities and prepare a report and submit it to the AICC. And what I saw was a free and serene land with people who served both love and food in abundance.
There, I saw a mosque similar to Ponnani Juma Masjid built by Sheikh Zainuddin Makhdoom, who turned his pen into a sword against imperial British.
Lakshadweep deserved to be placed above Scandinavian or European countries in Happiness Index. During my visit, I was surprised to see that shops and houses stood open even at night. PM Sayeed told me that robbery or burglary was unheard of in the islands.
Based on the report submitted, various programs were initiated for the development of the islands. The Central government established various institutions for higher education, dairy farms and work centres so that the islands entered the mainstream.
It was Indira Gandhi who initiated new schemes and programs for the uplift of Lakshadweep.
It is not a crime if the majority in a particular area follows one faith. Over 95 per cent of the Lakshadweep population are Muslims, and they stay away from liquor based on their faith. The new move to introduce alcohol into the islands plus other unhealthy reforms has the backing of some clear political agenda.
The island community lost peace of mind since prime minister Narendra Modi appointed his loyalist as the islands' Administrator. None of the islanders believes that the new reforms are in their interest. Implementing Goonda Act in a place where criminal activities are rare, demolishing sheds built by fishermen, interference with the lunch menus in schools and the people's very food habits all are nothing but part of Fascist steps. This is an attempt to inject communalism and separatism into the minds of a peaceful society.
The islanders will be at the fore against the north Indian business interests. They will fight against Amul, based on the ideal promoted by Mahatma Gandhi through the non-cooperation movement, which gave a new dimension for the Indian freedom struggle.
Time will serve those who impose such oppressive laws on an innocent society by following the footsteps of the imperialists who paved the way for the streets of India to struggle.
Kerala is obliged to raise its voice for Lakshadweep since it is the shore of hope for the islands. It is time for us to stay with this island community and bring relief for them.
( The Senior Congress leader and former Member of Parliament C Haridas recalls his memories about Lakshadweep)