#SaveLakshadweep Trends On Twitter As Locals Angry With “Anti-People” BJP Administrator

Taking charge as Lakshadweep administrator in December 2020, BJP Leader Praful Khoda Patel has been accused of completely changing COVID-related SOPs, leading to a spike in cases and ushering in undemocratic laws that have stoked fear amongst locals.

Social media erupted on Sunday with the hashtag #SaveLakshadweep trending where the islanders accused the administrator and BJP leader Praful Khoda Patel of implementing “repressive measures” and also damaging “traditional life and culture of the island”. Kerala Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem also wrote to the President in this regard, requesting him to urgently call back Patel.

Taking charge as Lakshadweep administrator in December 2020, Patel’s been accused of completely changing COVID-related SOPs, easing restrictions, including mandatory quarantine, which’s led to a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, given the island’s small area. In January 2021, Lakshadweep reported its first COVID-19 case after being free from the clutches of the virus throughout 2020. Currently, it has a total of 6611 cases (2050 active cases) and 24 deaths.

Who Is Praful Khoda Patel?

Praful Khoda Patel is a BJP leader who served as the home minister of Gujarat under the then Chief Minister Narendra Modi. He was appointed the administrator of the Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu in 2020 by the NDA government, in a curious departure from the earlier practice of appointing only IAS officers to the post.

His name also cropped up in the suicide of Mohan Delkar, an independent MP from Dadra and Nagar Haveli, who named its administrator Praful Khoda Patel, among others, in his 15-page purported suicide note.

BJP Leader Praful K. Patel (Photo courtesy: ThePrint)

Anger Amongst Islanders

On Sunday evening, a video on social media went viral in which a person claiming to be a native of the island alleged large-scale destruction by the administration on the pretext of making a smart city. In the video, the person could be seen lamenting the state of affairs in the Union Territory.

The BJP leader, in a major law reform, also enacted the ‘Goonda Act’ in spite of the island having the lowest crime rate in the country. The people fear that this is to target those protesting against Union Government policies.

In his letter, Rajya Sabha MP Kareem also said that “The undemocratic and anti-people regulation in the name of ‘Animal Prevention’ which intends to ban slaughter, transportation, selling or buying of beef products is one among such orders. This is a blatant onslaught on the people who depend on dairy and the growing of bovine as a means of livelihood. Neither the island community nor the local bodies on the island ever raised such a demand and they were never consulted during such regulations being framed.”

Protests have also been stoked against the proposed implementation of the Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021 (LDAR 2021). Social media users have termed the move as undemocratic as the regulations say that no legal proceedings can be maintained against the Government Planning and Development Authority or any of its officers or persons duly appointed or authorized by it under the provisions of LDAR 2021.

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He further alleged that the Administration has demolished the sheds used by fishermen for storing nets and other equipment on the grounds saying that they violated Coast Guards’ acts.

“Administration has also decided that islanders should no longer depend on Beypore (Kerala) for freight transit. Instead, they should depend on Mangalore (Karnataka) for this purpose,” he said.

Strangely enough, Patel also introduced a draft law to disqualify panchayat members in Lakshadweep with more than 2 kids.

Locals have alleged that many of his decisions have been taken against the wishes of the people primarily to curb the democratic rights of the 64,000 people who live in the territory, 97% of whom are Muslims.

Many well-known personalities including Indian footballer CK Vineeth, Actor Prithviraj have come out in support of the people of Lakshadweep

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