An Indian island paradise escaped COVID-19. Then a Hindu nationalist official arrived – By David Pierson, Varsha Torgalkar
…. The turbulence of modern India has long eluded Kavaratti and the 35 other flecks of idyllic tropical land scattered across the Arabian Sea and known as Lakshadweep. That serenity was upended in December, when a newly appointed administrator for the federal territory named Praful Khoda Patel visited the archipelago following the death of his predecessor.
Patel lifted restrictions on travel to the islands that had kept Lakshadweep remarkably free of COVID-19. The relaxation came just as India’s disastrous second wave was developing, resulting in a sudden and deadly outbreak in the island community.
But what sparked protests and turned this rarely noticed collection of reefs into national news was prompted when Patel, a loyalist of Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s Hindu nationalist Bharatiya Janata Party, or BJP, introduced sweeping plans to overhaul life in the Muslim enclave. It was as if the targeting of Muslims that has riven the mainland in recent years had suddenly made its way across the sea….