Reporter: Sabith Jesry
Producers: Himmat Shaligram, Naman Shah
Video Editor: Sandeep Suman
Protests in Lakshadweep against the administrator Praful K Patel have intensified over the past few days, with several Opposition leaders now giving support to the agitation on the islands.
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi, Kerala Chief Minister Pinrayi Vijayan, Rajya Sabha MP KC Venugopal, Shashi Tharoor and other leaders have expressed their dismay at Patel’s “authoritarian” policies.
Citing “undemocratic actions”, eight members of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s youth wing recently resigned, including the General Secretary PP Mohammad Hashim, as per a letter shared by Congress leader Shashi Tharoor.
Saying that Patel is running Lakshadweep like a king, Hashim was quoted as saying, “Patel’s measures will lead to job losses and harassment of people. He has not discussed the measures with the leaders here nor taken anyone into confidence,” The Indian Express reported.
Contentious ‘Reforms’ Proposed
Among the proposed new laws, the regulation that has outraged the islanders the most is the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR), 2021.
The draft notification states that the government has powers “to acquire, hold, manage, and dispose of property, movable or immovable, as it may deem necessary”.
Faseela Ibrahim, a local lawyer, stated that the LDAR is a completely undemocratic and an unconstitutional regulation.
“This regulation blatantly provides powers at the hands of the administrator to decide how people are going to use their own lands. It has given the power to declare any area as a development area and once the area is so declared, all development authority is given completely to the administrator. The owners of the land have no say over their own private properties. Is a completely undemocratic and an unconstitutional regulation.”Faseela Ibrahim, lawyer.
Moreover, on 25 February, the Animal Preservation Regulation 2021, which intends to ban slaughter, transportation, selling or buying of beef products, was placed in the public domain to massive criticism. Meanwhile, the ban on use of alcohol has been lifted as a measure to promote tourism.
Another problematic regulation proposed by the administrator is the Lakshwadeep Panchayat Regulation. The law disqualifies candidates with more than two children from getting elected to the panchayat. However, the law will not disqualify anyone having more than two children, if they have been elected before the regulation has been notified.
“Now the government has taken away local powers regarding education, health, animal husbandry, agriculture and have centralised it and placed it at the hands of the administration. This is extremely undemocratic and will lead to a completely dictatorial regime,” said Faseela.