Beef ban, nod to liquor sale: Lakshadweep protests as Praful Patel approves new reforms

  • Since taking over as Lakshadweep’s administrator, Patel has been making tweaks in the local administration.
Patel has also diverted all cargo to Mangalore by ending a long-lasting trade relation between the island and Beypore port of Kerala, the neighbouring state.
Patel has also diverted all cargo to Mangalore by ending a long-lasting trade relation between the island and Beypore port of Kerala, the neighbouring state.
Updated on May 25, 2021 05:04 PM IST
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By | Written by Shivani Kumar | Edited by Meenakshi Ray, Hindustan Times, New Delhi

A public outcry was sparked in Lakshwadweep over a slew of reforms announced by the new administration led by Bharatiya Janata Party's Praful Patel. The BJP leader, appointed as the administrator of Lakshadweep in December 2020, is facing opposition over policies introduced by him from the people of the Union territory and politicians, both from within Lakshadweep and the neighbouring state of Kerala.

Since taking over as Lakshadweep’s administrator, Patel has been making tweaks in the local administration. However, locals have termed the reforms as "anti-people" in Lakshwadeep, which largely has a Muslim population and is heavily dependent on fishing.

Patel’s reforms

Patel introduced a proposal to implement the anti-social Activities Regulation bill, 2021, or the goonda act in the island territory where the crime rate is already very low. Locals fear that bill will pave the way for the administration to arrest without a trial and feel that such harsh laws are not required. The government also took over the control of the local administrative powers of elected Zilla panchayat regarding-- education, health care, agriculture, animal husbandry and fisheries.

The new proposal will also bring changes in panchayat regulations and will make any person with more than two children ineligible to contest panchayat elections. He also gave a nod to open liquor bars in the island, a non-alcoholic zone due to its Muslim population, to promote tourism; a beef ban and eliminating non-vegetarian food from the menu of Anganwadi children.

Kerala lawmaker Hibi Eden, in his letter to the Centre, also claimed that the many government contract employees in the tourism sector were terminated without any reason. "Majority of the 70000 people in this Island depend on fishing and government services, but the new administration demolished huts of fisherman accusing Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) violation," he wrote in the letter to President Ram Nath Kovind, Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union home minister Amit Shah.

Patel has also diverted all cargo to Mangalore by ending a long-lasting trade relation between the island and Beypore port of Kerala, the neighbouring state.

Call for recall

The issue has garnered support from various opposition parties in Lakshadweep and Kerala, as well as from people on social media. Lakshadweep lawmaker and NCP's Mohammed Faizal and his colleagues from neighbouring Kerala—TN Prathapan (Congress), Elamaram Kareem (CPI-M) and ET Mohammed Basheer (Muslim League) have also urged the Centre to recall Patel.

On Monday, Congress general secretary KC Venugopal wrote a letter to the President alleging that the current administrator of Lakshadweep Praful Patel had taken "authoritarian measures" and demanded his recall. Venugopal said that there is apprehension among the people of Lakshadweep and resultant widespread protests "owing to the authoritarian measures taken by the current Administrator Praful Patel".

However, the Centre has dubbed the criticism as a result of Patel's efforts to end "corrupt practices" involving local politicians prevalent and usher in development there.

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Sunday, June 26, 2022