With growing protests over new regulations in the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, a group of retired bureaucrats sent a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Sunday criticising the “partisan attitude” of the new administrator Praful Khoda Patel and urged him to protect the unique culture and tradition of the island.
They said recent developments in Lakshadweep were quite “disturbing” and in the name of tourism development on the lines of Maldives, local sentiments can’t be overlooked.
The recent draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (2021) and new rules introduced by the administrator have whipped up protests in the island and different parts of the mainland. Last week, the Kerala assembly had passed an unanimous resolution seeking the recall of the administrator.
The signatories of the letter, 93 retired bureaucrats, said they were not affiliated with any political party but believe in neutrality and commitment to the Constitution and urged the PM to take native people into confidence before taking decisions.
They said the draft regulation not only ignored the unique geography and community life of the islands it also give “arbitrary and draconian powers” to the administrator to acquire, alter, transfer and remove or relocate islanders from their property. They also pointed out that the Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (Goonda Act) is quite unwarranted and uncalled for.
“According to the National Crime Records Bureau the crime rate in the island is very low compared to the rest of India, it has generated fear that that the real purpose of the regulation is to smother dissent or protests against the policies and actions of the administrator,” the letter said. Local people should be consulted before any change is imposed and in the name of development popular feelings can’t be overlooked, it said.
The Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, if passed into law, will ban the killing of bovine animals and prohibit the consumption, storage, transport or sale of the cattle, meant in island environment where there are inherent limit to livestock development, the letter said adding that there is no such ban in Kerala or north-eastern states.
“These drafts have been introduced without local consultation and are presently with the Ministry of Home Affairs for necessary approval,” said the letter written by former bureaucrats under the aegis of the Constitutional Conduct Group (CCG). “Each of these measures smack of not of development but of alien and arbitrary policy making, in violation of the established practice that respect environment and society of Lakshadweep,” it said.
Signatories of the letter include former National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon, ex Foreign Secretary Sujatha Singh, former Principal Secretary to the PM T K A Nair, former Chief Information Commissioner Wajahat Habibullah and former head of Prasar Bharati Jawahar Sircar.