Lakshadweep locals seethe over govt's tourism plans

Wednesday 09th June 2021 06:56 EDT

Numerous people in Lakshadweep held an underwater protest and staged a 12-hour fast demanding administrator Praful Patel's recall for his 'anti- people' measures and seeking withdrawal of draft legislation on development.

The protestors, both under sea water and outside of their homes, held placards with slogans like "Revoke LDAR" (Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation) and "Justice for Lakshadweep." The people who took to protest came under the banner of "save Lakshadweep forum" and posted pictures of protest in social media.

Opposition parties in Lakshadweep and in Kerala have alleged that Patel unilaterally lifted restrictions on the use of alcohol in the Muslim-majority islands, banned beef products, citing Animal Preservation and demolished fishermen's sheds built on the coastal areas, saying they violated the Coast Guard Act.

The BJP has, however, defended Patel, claiming that the protests were a result of his efforts to end "corrupt practices" involving local politicians and usher in development there. In Kochi United Democratic Front parliamentarians from Kerala staged a protest in front of the Lakshadweep Administrator's Office in solidarity with the protestors, demanding withdrawal of the proposed "anti-people laws" by the union government. "The islanders held a peaceful protest today. Almost all the establishments, shops and commercial establishments were closed. Almost everyone in the island took part in the protest," Hamdullah Sayeed, former Lakshadweep IUML MP, said.

He said Lakshadweep is closely associated with Kerala in every aspect and the administrator was trying to "separate the islands" from the state. IUML MP E T Mohammed Basheer, who inaugurated the protest, termed as "undemocratic" the actions of the administrator and demanded withdrawal of regulations and executive orders passed after May 12. AIYF, the youth wing of the CPI, a major ally in the LDF government in Kerala, also protested in front of the Administrator's office. All MPs from Kerala, except Rahul Gandhi, K Muraleedharan, K Sudhakaran, Kodikunnil Suresh, Sashi Tharoor, Adoor Prakash and N K Premachandran, took part in the protest.

The Lakshadweep people are demanding repeal of the proposed LDAR, the Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (PASA or Goondas Act) and the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation (LAPR). Social media was flooded with #SaveLakshadweep with islanders posting pictures of their protests.

Expressing solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep, the Kerala Legislative Assembly had unanimously passed a resolution, demanding the recall of Patel and requesting the Centre's immediate intervention "to protect the lives and livelihood of the islanders." An archipelago in the Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep has been witnessing protests by locals over the recent actions and administrative reforms being implemented by Patel.

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