Residents of Lakshadweep staged a 12-hour hunger strike today, holding banners outside their homes, sleeping on charpoys, and even swimming underwater to protest contentious new restrictions proposed for the Arabian Sea islands.
Residents protested from their houses and stores against new measures that administrator Praful Khoda Patel claims will help Lakshadweep emerge as a major tourist attraction “like the Maldives.”
Critics claim that the judgments have stoked resentment and terror among the 70,000 people who live on the picturesque archipelago noted for its forests, white beaches, and emerald water.
The administrator has submitted a draught detention law, the Prevention of Anti-Social Activities, which gives the administration broad powers to hold anyone for up to a year, in one of the most divisive moves.
Residents claim that the proposed “Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (2021)” will ruin the islands’ distinct culture and traditions and give the administration arbitrary land acquisition powers.
A planned prohibition on the slaughter of bovine animals, as well as the consumption, storage, transportation, or sale of cattle, has sparked outrage. The residents of Lakshadweep, who are primarily Muslims, believe that these laws are aimed at their eating habits.
Another factor is the Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, which prohibits candidates from running for gram panchayat elections if they have more than two children.
The reforms have sparked widespread outrage in the community, and protests have been backed by a variety of political groups. Many members of parliament, officials, and important figures have spoken out against the revisions. The Kerala assembly has unanimously endorsed a resolution calling for the administrator’s recall.
The Union Home Ministry must approve the draught laws. Last week, Lakshadweep MP Mohammad Faizal told the media that Home Minister Amit Shah guaranteed him that no law will be enacted in Lakshadweep against the people’s wishes.
93 retired top officials wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, criticizing the new administrator’s “political approach” and calling his decisions “disturbing.”
The rules, according to the letter, not only disregard the particular geography and communal life of islands, but also empower the administrator “arbitrary and draconian powers” to acquire, amend, transfer, remove, or relocate inhabitants from their property.