Nationalist Congress Party leader and Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal on Monday said that Union Home Minister Amit Shah had assured him that local representatives will be consulted before the draft laws are implemented in the Union Territory, reported PTI.
The Union Territory’s Administrator Praful Khoda Patel, a Bharatiya Janata Party leader and former Gujarat home minister, is facing backlash after he introduced a slew of regulations in the first five months of his tenure, triggering a massive outcry among Opposition parties, who have called for his removal.
The new regulations include a proposed cow slaughter ban, a preventive detention law in the Union Territory – which has one of the lowest crime rates in the country – and a draft law proposing sweeping changes in land development regulations.
On Monday, Faizal said: “He [Shah] has assured that whatever laws that are under the consideration, they will be sent to Lakshadweep where they will be consulted with the local representatives in the district panchayat. People’s consent will be taken into consideration before they are finalised.”
Lakshadweep residents have objected to two draft laws – the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation and the Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation. The first draft legislation is to help in overseeing the development of towns through land acquisition and the other has the power to detain an individual for up to a year to protect the internal security of the islands.
BJP Vice President AP Abdullakutty, in charge of the party’s affairs in Lakshadweep, said that the draft laws were proposed changes or suggestions and that the public opinion was sought.
“He [Shah] asked us to tell people there’s nothing to fear and no steps will be taken there without taking the people into confidence,” Abdullakutty told The Indian Express. “He said there will be discussions with people for their consent.” He along with a small group of BJP leaders, including BJP’s Lakshadweep unit chief Abdul Khader Haji met Shah and party President JP Nadda.
Opposition parties have criticised Patel’s decisions related to the Union Territory and demanded his removal from the post. The parties accused him of harassing local people and destroying the heritage of the island territory. Opposition leaders have also alleged that Patel, who had served as Gujarat home minister, is carrying out the political agenda of the BJP to target Lakshadweep’s large Muslim population.
However, the BJP has defended the policies in Lakshadweep and alleged that people with vested interests were spreading misinformation about it. The party said the administration was trying to develop the island as a major tourist hub and claimed that local residents supported it.
On May 27, Patel had said that the policies were part of an effort to develop the region and help its residents. On the same day, Collector S Asker Ali alleged that there was a “misinformation campaign” against the administration.
Meanwhile, the Kerala Assembly on Monday passed a resolution condemning Lakshadweep Administrator Patel’s controversial policies in the Union Territory and urged the Centre to call him back.