Sun. Jun 13th, 2021

Amid protests in Lakshadweep against Administrator Praful Khoda Patel’s interventions, senior Congress leader Rahul Gandhi Thursday wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi asking him to withdraw the administration’s controversial orders.

He said the future of the archipelago is threatened by the “anti-people policies” announced by the Administrator.

Gandhi said Patel “has unilaterally proposed sweeping changes without duly consulting elected representatives or the public. The people of Lakshadweep are protesting against these arbitrary actions”.

The controversial proposals referred to by Rahul Gandhi include a ban on beef, disqualification of panchayat poll aspirants with more than two children, introduction of an anti-goonda Act, and establishment of an authority with powers to acquire land for development purposes.

“The administrator’s attempt to undermine ecological sanctity of the island is evident in the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation issued recently. The provisions undermine safeguards pertaining to land ownership, dilute environmental regulations for certain activities and severely limit legal recourse available to affected person,” Gandhi said.

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“Livelihood security and sustainable development are being sacrificed for short-term commercial gains,” he added.

The provision in the draft Panchayat Regulation that disqualifies members with more than two children is blatantly anti-democratic, Gandhi said.

“Furthermore, proposed changes to regulations like Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation, the Lakshadweep Animals Preservation Regulation and lifting of restrictions on sale of alcohol are a deliberate assault on the cultural and religious fabric of the local community. The attempt to cut ties with Beypore port strikes at the close historical and cultural ties with Kerala,” he said.

Gandhi claimed that the administration, despite the pandemic, demolished structures used by the fisherfolk, fired contractual workers in various government departments, and relaxed quarantine norms that led to a spike in Covid-19 cases.

“Under the guise of development and maintaining law and order in a low crime union territory, the draconian regulations penalise dissent and undermine grassroots democracy. I request you to intervene in this matter and ensure that the…orders are withdrawn. The people of Lakshadweep deserve a developmental vision that respects their way of life and reflects their aspirations,” he said.

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