The Andaman and Nicobar Islands, the British and Jinnah

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Wrangling over ownership

Historically, the Andaman Islands were dreaded by the Indians, known as the Kalapani after the infamous acts of transportation and British incarceration of Indian convicts at those remote penal colonies. It was after toying with Australia, Penang and a few other remote isles that the British finally established the cellular jail in the A&N Islands. Convicts accused of various crimes were sent out there, including scores of Moplahs from Malabar after 1921, and the British operated the jail as a profit center. During the second world war, the Japanese captured and ruled the isles until it was handed over to NSC Bose and the INA. After the war, when deliberations started on Indian independence as well as the partition of Pakistan, the ownership of territories such as the Laccadive and Minicoy islands as well as the Andaman and Nicobar Islands were hotly debated. It hides many stories and mysteries, and is also home to a Moplah community who were displaced from Ernad and resettled there. These were the people who elected to remain in the islands, people who still talk in that old Moplah dialect of Malayalam, living somewhat frozen in time. In a previous article, we studied the discussions as related to the Laccadives, now we can get to the tale of the contested A&N islands.