Union Defence Minister Rajnath Singh on Saturday said no one in the world can dare to question or doubt the patriotism of the Muslim populace in Lakshadweep or even the other inhabitants of the islands as they have thwarted attempts of anti-India forces to brew trouble or instigate the people there against the country.
He unveiled a six-foot-tall bronze statue of Mahatma Gandhi in Kavaratti island of Lakshadweep on Gandhi Jayanti on Saturday. Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Patel was also present at the event. This is the first public statue in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep.
"People in the island are true followers of Mahatma Gandhi. There is no question over the patriotism of the Muslim population on the island," he said.
Singh said that people tried to push the island into extremism but people never welcomed such people and their ideology and always followed the path of Mahatma Gandhi.
Singh, during the event, also spoke on the issue of climate change and how global warming and a rise in ocean levels pose a threat to the existence of Lakshadweep.
He said that as part of the government's "positive attitude" towards reduction of carbon emissions, the Prime Minister has decided to ban manufacture, sale and usage of single use plastics and related products from July 1 next year.
He also said that cleanliness on land should also include cleaning of the oceans and this has been emphasised upon by the Prime Minister. "The marine ecosystem has to be kept clean," he added.
On the issue of anti-India forces attempting to foment trouble in the island, Singh said that due to the strategic location and importance of the island archipelago, such attempts have been made in the past and even now, but efforts of such entities were unsuccessful because of the islanders.
He further said that there were attempts to promote extremism, radicalism and terrorism in Lakshadweep, but all these efforts failed and for that he congratulated the people of the island union territory.
He also said that the BJP government at the Centre has taken a strict stance against terrorism, which was evident from its "cross-border" actions against terrorists. However, where radicalisation was concerned, the government has not taken such a hard stance and has instead opted for "counselling" to bring those radicalised back into the mainstream.
The Defence Minister said the people of the island were true followers of Mahatma's principles as there was no hatred amongst them on the basis of caste, creed or religion.
He said that even the present BJP government under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi was totally against any discrimination on the basis of caste, creed and religion.
However, "some vested interests" have been projecting the present central government as "anti-minority", which was "incorrect" and a "false allegation", the Union minister said. He said the aim of the present government at the Centre was "justice for all and appeasement of none".
He said that while the island may be thousands of kilometers away from Delhi, the people living there are not far from the hearts of the central government and this message was coming not just from him, but also from the Prime Minister.
Singh said this was evident from the development work being planned and carried out in the island and said any shortcoming in it should be brought to the Centre's attention.
Outlining the Centre's plans for the island, he said Lakshadweep will be turned into the next Maldives, which has a unique identity of its own in the world.
Singh said that Lakshadweep too would soon have a unique identity of its own in the world and for that development work in the island was being expedited.
As part of the development work, the administration of the Union Territory was taking steps to realise the islands' tourism potential, he said and congratulated the administrator - Praful Khoda Patel - for his efforts.
On the occasion of the 152nd birth anniversary of Mahatma Gandhi, the administration of Lakshadweep organised a three-day festival.
In 2010 during UPA tenure, the administration had brought a statue of Mahatma Gandhi that was to be installed in the island but after locals resisted, the plan was dropped.
(With inputs from ANI and PTI)
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