Lakshadweep MP Mohammad Faizal spoke to India Today and explained why the new administrator has made himself unpopular with the people of the islands.
Social media was set abuzz when #SaveLakshadweep began trending a few days ago. The people of the idyllic islands in the Arabian Sea, who are proud of their land’s beauty and culture, are up in arms against Lakshadweep administrator Praful Patel for a host of reasons from mishandling the Covid-19 pandemic to trying to dictate what the islanders should or should not eat and drink.
Lakshadweep MP Mohammad Faizal told India Today that the trouble began when Patel, a former MLA from Gujarat, was appointed the new administrator after his predecessor Dineshwar Sharma passed away. Since then, Patel has proposed to enact a slew of measures that have aggravated the people of Lakshadweep, who claim these actions will destroy their unique lifestyle. Faizal went a step further and charged that the new administrator is “spoiling the democratic fabric of India” with his “arbitrary ways”.
ON PATEL’S HANDLING OF THE PANDEMIC
During the first phase of Covid, the Lakshadweep islands were a green Zone with zero cases. This was because of the collective efforts of the then administrator Dineshwar Sharma, elected representatives and the people, said Faizal.
“We formulated a special SOP putting in place a quarantine system: Anyone who wanted to visit Lakshadweep has to undergo seven days quarantine in Kochi and then, if they have a negative RTPCR test, would they be allowed to enter Lakshadweep, where they have to quarantine for an additional week,” the MP detailed, adding that this process controlled the spread of the virus in the islands, where health infrastructure is lacking.
However, immediately after taking charge, Patel relaxed the SOPs, alleged Faizal. “We wanted economic activities but we demanded that the quarantine system must remain in place. But he did not agree and did away with it, and now Lakshadweep has India’s highest positivity rate,” the MP stated.
The islands are now in turmoil due to the rash of proposals introduced by Patel, who also serves as the administrator of the UTs of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu. The draft Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation 2021 will ban the slaughter of cows, bulls and bullocks, while another legislation seeks to greenlight liquor bars, ostensibly to promote tourism. Lakshadweep has long been a non-alcoholic zone and beef is a big part of the islanders’ diet naturally, these moves on the administrator’s part have sparked a major outcry.
“Under this act what he is trying to implement is what I should eat or what I should not eat. He is taking away my constitutional right,” complained Faizal.
He further accused the administration of attempting to “usurp the people’s land” by introducing the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021. If implemented, it will empower the government to take any piece of land owned by any common man on the islands for “development” purposes, claimed Faizal.
The MP also protested against Patel’s anti-goonda act in the island territory where the crime rate is very low.
Another proposed legislation is to make those with more than two children ineligible to contest panchayat elections. It’s worth pointing out that the total fertility rate of Lakshadweep is 1.6, well below the upper limit of two.
‘LEGISLATIONS PROPOSED WITHOUT CONSULATION’
Faizal alleged that the administrator is coming out with these “reforms” without consulting the public or elected officials. “These draft notifications are being brought without discussion with elected representatives. This is against democracy,” he said.
Activists and local leaders across party lines have come on record to condemn Patel’s “autocratic style” of governance. In fact, Faizal, along with several LDF and Congress MPs from Kerala, wrote to the Centre demanding that Patel be removed from office and his proposals reviewed.
Source: India Today