Sun. Jun 13th, 2021

Former Congress president Rahul Gandhi has written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, asking him to intervene and withdraw the new orders and regulations introduced by Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel.

In the letter, written on Wednesday and released by the Congress on Thursday, Mr. Gandhi alleged that the new regulations and orders ‘threaten’ the heritage of the archipelago.

“Lakshadweep’s pristine natural beauty and its unique confluence of cultures have drawn people for generations. The custodians of its heritage seek to safeguard the archipelago for posterity. However, their future is threatened by the anti-people policies announced by the administrator of Lakshadweep, Shri. Praful Khoda Patel,” he wrote.

The Congress leader said the Administrator had unilaterally proposed sweeping changes without consulting elected representatives or the people of Lakshadweep who were protesting against ‘arbitrary’ actions.

“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 persons. Livelihood security and sustainable development are being sacrificed for short-term commercial gains,” Mr. Gandhi said.

The Congress leader said that the proposed rule in the draft panchayat regulation to disqualify members with more than two children was “blatantly anti-democratic”.

“Furthermore, proposed changes to regulations like Prevention of Anti-Social Activities (PASA) 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,” added Mr. Gandhi who is a Lok Sabha member from Kerala.

The Congress leader also alleged that the administration demolished structures used by the fisher folk, fired contractual workers in various government departments and ‘relaxed quarantine norms’ that led to a spike in COVID-19 cases.

Arguing that “draconian” regulations had been brought in to penalise dissent and undermine grassroots democracy in the guise of development and maintaining law and order, Mr. Gandhi’s letter to Mr. Modi read, “ I request you to intervene in this matter and ensure that the above mentioned orders are withdrawn. The people of Lakshadweep deserve a developmental vision that respects their way of life and reflects their aspirations”.

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