A day after joining the protests against Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi wrote to PM Modi on Thursday seeking intervention. Politicians, citizens and celebrities have come out this week against Patel’s proposed reforms for the union territory alleging they go against the culture of the islands.
Patel has said his actions are intended for the development of the region.
In his letter, Rahul Gandhi wrote:
Dear Prime Minister,
I hope this letter finds you well. Lakshadweep’s pristine natural beauty and its unique confluence of cultures have drawn people for generations. The custodians of its heritage seek to safeguard the archipelago for posterity. However, their future is threatened by the anti-people policies announced by the administrator of Lakshadweep, Shri. Praful Khoda Patel. The administrator has unilaterally proposed sweeping changes without duly consulting elected representatives or the public. The people of Lakshadweep are protesting against these arbitrary actions.
The administrator’s attempt to undermine ecological sanctity of the island is evident in the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation issued recently. The provisions undermine safeguards pertaining to land ownership, dilute environmental regulations for certain activities and severely limit legal recourse available to affected persons. Livelihood security and sustainable development are being sacrificed for short-term commercial gains. The provision in the draft Panchayat Regulation that disqualifies members with more than two children is blatantly anti-democratic. Furthermore, proposed changes to regulations like Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation, the Lakshadweep Animals Preservation Regulation and lifting of restrictions on sale of alcohol are a deliberate assault on the cultural and religious fabric of the local community. The attempt to cut ties with Beypore port strikes at the close historical and cultural ties with Kerala.
It is pertinent to mention that despite the pandemic, the administration demolished structures used by the fisherfolk, fired contractual workers in various government departments, and relaxed quarantine norms that led to a lethal spike in covid cases. Under the guise of development and maintaining law and order in a low crime union territory, the draconian regulations penalise dissent and undermine grassroots democracy.
I request you to intervene in this matter and ensure that the abovementioned orders are withdrawn. The people of Lakshadweep deserve a developmental vision that respects their way of life and reflects their aspirations.