How Lakshadweep Became Part of India and Was Made a Union Territory

The strategic islands were integrated into India shortly after independence

Lakshadweep, India’s tiniest union territory, has come into focus after Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s recent visit. But how did this scenic archipelago become part of India and get the UT status?

Comprising 36 islands, Lakshadweep is located off India’s southwestern coast in the Arabian Sea. In August 1947, as India and Pakistan gained independence, Lakshadweep’s status remained unclear.

Sensing an opportunity, Pakistan sent a warship to take control of the Muslim-majority islands. However, India’s Home Minister Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel swiftly directed forces under Arcot Ramaswamy Mudaliar to head to Lakshadweep and hoist the Indian flag.

The Indian troops reached just in time before the Pakistani warship. The tricolor was hoisted on Lakshadweep, cementing its status as part of India. Historians note that any delay could have led to Lakshadweep going to Pakistan.

Lakshadweep was made a union territory on November 1, 1956 for geographical reasons. Its small size and distance from mainland India meant that full statehood was not practical.

As a UT, Lakshadweep is under the direct administration of the central government. This gives India control over the strategic islands amid rising security threats.

The Indian Navy and Coast Guard maintain a strong presence on the islands. Lakshadweep’s location in the Arabian Sea also gives India jurisdiction over large exclusive economic zones under international maritime laws.

Nearly 70 years since joining India, Lakshadweep remains a key asset due to its natural beauty, resources and location. Sardar Patel’s timely action ensured that the islands were integrated into the nation at a crucial time during partition.

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