'Black Day' to be observed in Lakshadweep as Praful Khoda Patel returns to island
Amid growing protest by the locals, Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel is set to arrive on the island for a seven-day visit from Monday. Ahead of his arrival, protesting group 'Save Lakshadweep Forum' has announced its plan to observe 'Black day' on Monday, following which security has been tightened on the island.
Protestors have also sought time to meet the administrator who is holding additional charge of the island. Dadar and Diu administrator was given the additional charge after the death of the former administrator.
On Saturday, over a dozen Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) members in Lakshadweep resigned over the sedition case against filmmaker Aisha Sultana. During a debate in one of the Malayalam channels, Sultana had termed Patel a bio-weapon launched by the union government, following which BJP president C Abdul Khadar Haji filed a police complaint against her, accusing her of sedition.
BJP Kerala state vice president KS Radhakrishnan said the BJP members were "terrorised and coerced" into resigning.
He said that since the BJP has only a nominal presence in the union territory, the 15 party members were left with no other option but to endorse the view of the majority, news agency ANI reported.
"There is the nominal presence of BJP in Lakshadweep. The majority of the people do not belong to BJP. They were terrorised and coerced by the majority and they had no other option but to endorse the views adopted by the majority party. That is what happened there," Radhakrishnan told ANI.
Witnessing furore for over a month now, residents of the archipelago have been protesting against decisions by the administrator stating that they will affect unique culture and tradition of a group of islands.
The locals are up in arms against three draft regulations that propose to develop the island as a major tourist destination, goonda act and the plan to restrict the slaughtering of cattle. They also allege these regulations will destroy the islands' character and identity since 97% of the islands are covered by forests and 95% of its Muslim population belongs to the protected scheduled tribe category.
People are protesting against the draft legislations like Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (Goonda Act), Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation and Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021 among others.
Patel, who was 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.