Amid a growing demand for the removal of Praful Khoda Patel, the administrator of Lakshadweep, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Congress MP Shashi Tharoor on Tuesday, 25 May, expressed their dismay over his recent policies.
Patel, who has held the post for the last five months, has come under fire over his reforms – ranging from a beef ban to a draconian Goonda Act (despite the territory recording the lowest crime rate).
As the hashtag calling to #SaveLakshadweep took over social media platforms, several Rajya Sabha members from Kerala wrote to President Ram Nath Kovind to voice their concern over Patel’s ‘anti-people’ and ‘authoritarian’ policies.
Now, lending his support is Vijayan, who tweeted that “challenges imposed on their lives, livelihoods and culture cannot be accepted.”
He alleged that the Patel administration was trying to sever connection between Kerala and Lakshadweep by urging boats from the islands to only head for Mangalore in Karnataka, instead of the Beypore harbour in Kerala’s Kozhikode district. “Kerala has a strong relationship, a long history of cooperation with Lakshadweep. Unequivocally condemn devious efforts to thwart it. Perpetrators should desist,” he concluded.
‘Stop the Rot!’ Says Tharoor
Shashi Tharoor pointed out that he had raised the issue of Lakshadweep first on 9 February, prompted by former MP Hamdullah Sayeed.
“Today the protests have become a storm. The government has to intervene. We are destroying a peaceful part of the country where peace, communal harmony and calm reigned undisturbed. Stop the rot!” Tharoor tweeted.
Even Kerala’s former finance minister Thomas Isaac chimed in, alleging that the measures taken in Lakshadweep were similar to those taken in the Union territory of Daman and Diu. Earlier in February, Patel was named and booked in the suicide case of Daman and Diu MP Mohan Delkar.
Isaac alleged that eliminating the islanders’ rights on their own property is Patel’s main aim so that he can build luxury villas and resorts for rich businessmen. He further said that the Goonda Act has been implemented in advance to prepare for the rising protests.
Authoritarian Measures: KC Venugopal
Congress General Secretary KC Venugopal, in a letter to President Kovind, said that among a series of “authoritarian” measures, the powers of the democratically elected district panchayats have been curtailed and unilaterally been taken over.
Pointing out that fishing is the main source of income of the people on the islands, Venugopal added that “citing the violation of Coast Guard Act the administrator ordered the demolition of sheds,” which were constructed to keep nets and equipment by the previous administration, “causing huge financial loss to the poor fishermen.”
“The local people fear that all these unilateral and anti-people decisions would ultimately lead to the destruction of traditional livelihood and unique culture of Lakshadweep,” Venugopal stated.
Congress MP Hibi Eden said in a tweet, “The new administrator of Lakshadweep is playing with fire . New laws without consultation with the locals will impact their livelihood and fishing activities. Development for the administrator is vesting powers of an elected body and framing anti-people laws.”