NEW DELHI (PRESS RELEASE)
The All India Kisan Sabha AIKS condemns the authoritarian Administrator of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep who has been arbitrarily taking decisions and changing time-tested laws governing the UT without any consultation. The manner in which he has been tampering with the existing laws clearly points to a larger sinister agenda at the behest of the Sangh Parivar.
In a region where Muslims comprise about 99 percent of the population the actions of the Administrator are against the secular fabric of the country and its Constitution. AIKS demands immediate sacking and recall of the Administrator Praful Patel and restoration of the laws to their original position. The RSS mouthpiece Organiser spreading a canard that Islamists are instigating the protests reeks of the communal fascist conspiracy of the Sangh Parivar. It also points to the fascist intolerance to democratic protests.
The Administrator Praful Patel immediately after assuming office in December, 2020 has been taking controversial decisions. He unilaterally changed the Standard Operating Procedure for preventing spread of COVID in the island. The unscientific altering of the SOP saw an alarming rise in cases from zero in 2020 to thousands of cases now. Almost immediately after taking-over a crackdown on protestors who had put up posters against the Citizenship Amendment Act were arrested. In the name of reforms and schemes the Administrator is trying to destroy the harmonious life and unique culture of the people of Lakshadweep. Lakshadweep was so far protected under special provisions where liquor sales are not allowed, restrictions on purchase of land and on visit to the islands without special permission from the administration. The Administrator has unilaterally lifted the restrictions on use of alcohol. This is against the wishes of the people of the islands. The existing laws are being changed unilaterally; new legislations are being imposed without any such demand from the grassroots and without proper consultation.
Agriculture and allied activities including fishing is going to be adversely affected. The Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, 2021 bans slaughter of cattle, selling, transportation and buying of beef products. Applicable to Bovines including bulls, bullocks, cows, calves, male and female buffaloes and buffalo calves, the regulation also proposes draconian punishment ranging from seizing of vehicles and animals to a minimum of 10 years imprisonment or a maximum punishment of life sentence and a fine of up to Rs.5 lakh. This is a blatant onslaught on the people who depend on dairying and growing of cattle as a means of livelihood. It is also an infringement on their food habits and right to choice of food. Many people were terminated from Department of Animal Welfare and the Department of Agriculture. Dairy farms under the UT Administration have been ordered to close down. Fishing is one of the main sources of income for a majority of the people of Lakshadweep. Sheds for storage of nets and other equipment used by fishers were demolished by the new administration on the grounds that they violated the Coast Guard Act. These temporary buildings constructed under an exemption given only to fishermen are being demolished without any warning. This caused huge losses to fishing community.
The Lakshadweep Town and Country Planning Regulation 2021-TCPR 2021 has also led to serious apprehensions about possibility of indiscriminate land acquisition in the name of different activities. It could open the doors for land acquisition for infrastructure, buildings, engineering, mining, quarrying and other such operations on the ecologically rich and sensitive islands by terming it under ‘developmental activity’. The Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation 2021 with draconian provisions in the islands where prisons are empty due to negligible crime rate is also seen as an attempt to stifle protests and facilitate his agenda unhindered. The Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021 calls for making those with more than two children ineligible to contest Panchayat elections while Lakshadweep has a low total fertility rate of 1.6. This is against the democratic ethos guaranteed by the Indian Constitution. The Administration has also closed about 38 Anganwadis, hundreds of casual and contract labourers working under different departments including in mid-day meal scheme have been terminated. This is adding to the crisis in times of a pandemic.
The intentions of the Administrator are questionable and decisions are unwarranted. AIKS calls upon people across India to stand in solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep and defeat the arbitrary, undemocratic decisions of the Administrator.
Ashok Dhawale Hannan Mollah
President General Secretary