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Protests widen against Centres Lakshadweep moves
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Protests widen against Centre's Lakshadweep moves

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Organisations' protests are mounting against policies initiated by the new administrator in Lakshadweep islands, off the coast of the southern Indian state of Kerala.

Communist Party of India (Marxist–Leninist) Liberation (CPIML) demanded the withdrawal of Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation 2021 (LDAR) imposed by Praful Khoda Patel, a former minister from Gujarat, who took charge 5 months ago.

In a press statement, CPIML said that LDAR "proposes to give the administrator powers to grab land, remove or relocate islanders from their property, for town planning or any developmental activity".

The statement also demanded the withdrawal of other acts such as Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA) introduced in January 2021, Draft Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation and Draft Panchayat Notification.

PASA allows detention of an individual without any public disclosure up to a year while the draft panchayat notification scraps the membership of a panchayat member with more than two children. The Draft Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, which the CPIML terms as 'a draconian beef ban law', is an attempt to remove non-vegetarian food from school lunch.

"Praful Patel and the Modi regime are indulging in Islamophobic fake news to justify their crackdown," the statement further adds. The claims of arms and drugs smuggling from Lakshadweep into Kerala which was foiled by the Indian Navy turned out to be false as it was shown that the interception of vessels, which were bound via Pakistan to Sri Lanka, took place 90 nautical miles away from Lakshadweep coasts.

Protest has also been raised by Students Islamic Organisation of India (SIO), students' wing of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, which in a press release termed LDAR as "anti-people" and "catastrophic for Lakshadweep".

SIO expressed extreme concern about a 'hollow' development plan laid upon the flora-fauna rich island with unique indigenous culture and heritage. "Our constitution has given provision for the protection of the rights of indigenous people and their land. This act is clearly a betrayal of the constitutional spirit of inclusivity and development in harmony with nature and natural biodiversity," says SIO.

Patel became the island's administrator in December 2020, after the death of former administrator Dineshwar Sharma.

Sio also cites that Section 29 of the LDAR draft empowers the government to choose any land for "development" activities. Under this regulation, the land so acquired can be used as the government sees fit, with no regard to the will of the land-owner.

The draft provides a deliberately vague construction of the term "public use", allowing it to be easily abused by the administrator and other authorities. If implemented, it will be catastrophic for the fragile ecosystem of Lakshwadeep, which is very rich in biodiversity, the press release added.

SIO demanded that Praful Patel be immediately recalled in response to the will of the people of Lakshadweep who are upagainst the draconian laws.


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