Lakshadweep Administrator Praful Khoda Patel on Monday arrived in the Union Territory as citizens observed a “black day” protest, reported PTI. The residents are protesting against Patel’s proposed reforms and the agitation is expected to intensify on the island.
Patel, who is in Lakshadweep for a week-long visit, met top officials of the administration and reviewed the progress of various development projects.
Prior to his arrival, Save Lakshadweep Forum, a platform of various political parties opposing the draft regulations moved by Patel, said they will observe the “black day” by wearing black masks and hoisting black flags at their homes during the administrator’s visit, which is scheduled to conclude on June 20.
A slew of regulations introduced by Patel has triggered a massive outcry among the residents of the Union Territory as well as Opposition parties. 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.
“If he invites us for a discussion, our representatives will meet him,” one of the forum leaders told PTI before the administrator arrived on the islands. “Repeal of the proposed regulations is our major demand. If he accepts our demand, we will cooperate with the administration.”
The protesters also shouted slogans such as “roll back all weird anti-social and anti-public reforms” and “Praful Khoda Patel Go Back”.
In a Facebook post, Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal said that it was for the first time that Lakshadweep had an administrator “in the shades of black” and that the day will be marked in the history of the islands in black letters.
“Lakshadweep, known for its hospitality, mourns over these disheartening situations and SLF [Save Lakshadweep Forum] strongly protests against the unilateral and anti-people decisions taken by the administrator that turned the peace-loving islanders to protestors,” he said.
The Lok Sabha MP said that he hopes the central government will take remedial steps to ensure that Lakshadweep goes back to its normal life.
Meanwhile, the police carried out a march in Lakshadweep’s capital Kavaratti on Sunday night ahead of Patel’s visit, The Hindu reported.
Meanwhile, on Monday morning, reports had suggested that Patel changed his plan of flying to Lakshadweep via Kochi to avoid Congress MPs waiting to meet him at the airport in the Kerala city. Instead, he chose to fly from Daman and Diu.
Patel, who is also the administrator of Daman and Diu, stays mostly in the Union Territory adjoining Gujarat.
“We had information that Patel would land here [Kochi] on a special flight and take a scheduled Air India flight to the island [Lakshadweep],” Congress MP Hibi Eden told IANS. “But we found out that he is not landing here and flying from Daman and Diu.”
During his visit, Patel is expected to review the eco-tourism projects in the islands, PTI reported. He is also expected to visit the proposed site for a sea facing hospital in Kavaratti and review the smart city project there.