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A campaign named #savelakshwadeep has been launched by the residents and political parties of Lakshadweep that demands the recall of the administrator Praful Khoda Patel. It is alleged that the reforms were introduced after he took over in December 2020.

By Debasnata Nayak

The reforms that are introduced were detrimental to the traditional, social, cultural and economic conditions of the society. It is alleged by the opposition parties that these unilateral decisions will pose as a threat and destroy the heritage of Lakshadweep and affect many people’s livelihood.

After the death of administrator Dineshwar Sharma in December 2020,Praful Khoda Patel who is the administrator of Daman and Diu was given the additional charge of Lakshadweep.

A few of the reforms that have been passed are:

Prohibition of slaughter without certificate from competent authority

It has been proposed by Praful Patel, that the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021, which bans slaughter of the cow, calf, bull and bullocks. Animals should be slaughtered only at places specified for the purpose. Proposed law bans the sale and purchase of beef and its products. Persons who slaughter animals without a certificate are liable to be punished with imprisonment extending to one year and a fine of up to Rs 10,000. Besides, in February, mutton and chicken were removed from schools’ midday meal menus. Children had been provided nonvegetarian meals at Anganwadis till then.

Land regulations

The Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation proposes changes in the existing land ownership and usage by giving sweeping, arbitrary and unchecked powers to the government to directly interfere with the islanders’ right to possess and retain their property. The government is empowered to pick any land for development activities including building, engineering, mining, quarrying and other operations have been listed under development activities.

Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act, 2021

The proposed law gives powers to detain a person without any public disclosure for a period of up to one year. Locals fear that bill will pave the way for detention without a trial and believe that there is no requirement of such harsh laws as the island has a negligible crime rate, all the more reason why the law is suspect.

Bar on election contest

Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021 drafted saying that if a resident has more than two children, he/she cannot contest a panchayat election.

Plan to allow sale of liquor

The sale of liquor at hotels and resorts in three islands has been allowed by the administrator in the name of tourism promotion. The Muslim majority island territory has remained a non-alcoholic zone for decades. Liquorsale was allowed only in Bangaram islands till now. Liquor was not allowed in other islands and travellers were not allowed to carry liquor.

Winding up of dairy farms

Dairy farms operated by the Animal Husbandry department have been shut down. On May 21, dairy farms of the local government were also ordered shut; all animals are to be auctioned by May 31.

Coastal regulation

The huts erected by fishermen along the coastline have been demolished by the island administration for alleging violation of Coastal Regulation Zone and Coast Guard Act. These sheds were built by fisher folk to keep their nets and fishing gear. The sheds were constructed under an exemption provided to the fisherfolk.

Cargo diverted to Mangaluru

The administration has diverted freight transit to Mangaluru, ending the trade ties between the islands and Kerala. The islanders depend on ports of Beypore and Kochi for logistics and medical facilities.

Change in SOP for emergency evacuation

The administration has changed the standard operating procedure for emergency evacuation of patients has been changed by the administration. As per the order, all uncomplicated orthopaedic cases including hip fracture should be sent by ship. Medical officer should ensure that no cases other than emergency ones are referred to for transfer by special sortie helicopter.

Lakshadweep BJP chief joins protests against new regulations | Latest News  India - Hindustan Times

Covid spread

During the first wave of the pandemic, Lakshadweep had remained a Covid-19 green zone with the first case being reported only on January 18, 2021. It has been alleged by the protesters that the changes in rules of quarantine and travel effected by the new administrator led to the rapid spread of the coronavirus disease.
The islands have so far reported 7,111 cases, of which 2,320 are active. As many as 26 people have died due to the disease.

An all-party meeting on May 27 has been called by the Lakshadweep administration to discuss the issues raised by residents. Representatives of the Congress, NCP and BJP will attend the meeting, which will be held online.

The Congress has written to President Ram Nath Kovind seeking his intervention in recalling Patel

People of Lakshadweep have approached United Nations Secretary General António Guterres, as well as the United Nation’s Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues, against the actions of the new administrator.

#SaveLakshadweep campaign has been trending on social media since May 23. Many prominent personalities and celebrities have come forward in extending their support to the campaign.

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