Kochi, June 7
Residents of Lakshadweep on Monday held an underwater protest while others staged a 12 hour fast outside their homes, demanding recall of the islands’ Administrator Praful Khoda Patel for his ‘anti-people’ measures and seeking withdrawal of a draft legislation on development.
The protestors, under the banner of “save Lakshadweep forum” held placards underwater in the Arabian Sea and outside their homes with slogans like “Revoke LDAR” (Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation) and “Justice for Lakshadweep” and posted their pictures 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 prevalent 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 today.
Almost everyone on the island took part in the protest, “Hamdullah Sayeed, former Lakshadweep IUML MP, told PTI.
He said Lakshadweep is closely associated with Kerala in every aspect and the administrator was trying to “separate the island” 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 residents 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.
Thousands of others also trended the hashtag.
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.