The administration of Lakshadweep on Monday refused permission to eight MPs belonging to Left parties in Kerala for a visit to the island, citing the coronavirus pandemic and security concerns, reported NDTV. This came two days after the Union Territory’s administration denied permission for a visit to Congress MPs Benny Behanan, Hibi Eden and TN Prathapan to visit the Union Territory.

The Left MPs are Binoy Viswam, John Brittas, Shreyams Kumar, K Somaprasad, Thomas Chazhikkadan, Elamaram Kareem, V Sivadasan and AM Arif. They had asked for permission to visit the islands “to have a fact check on the impact of administrative actions and reforms under the present administrator.....”

Residents of the islands as well as Opposition parties have been protesting against a slew of regulations introduced by Administrator Praful Khoda Patel. 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 rules.

Opposition parties have criticised Patel’s decisions related to the Union Territory and have asked for his removal. The parties accused him of harassing locals and destroying the heritage of the island territory. Politicians have also alleged that Patel, who had served as Gujarat home minister, has been targeting Lakshadweep’s large Muslim population.

The administration refused permission to the Left politicians on Monday, saying that it was “clearly mentioned [that] the purpose of the visit is to have a fact check on the impact of administrative there is every possibility of public gathering and such gathering may lead to Covid spread in the islands”.

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The Patel-run administration claimed that political activities would disturb the “calm and peaceful atmosphere in the islands”. The statement added that it would be against the interests of the islands’ residents and cause security concerns.

The administration also cited a police report that claimed the proposed visit “may activate local people, political parties/activists, social workers and people...[to take part in] opposition/agitation against the administration”, reported NDTV.

Apart from these reasons, the administration said the politicians had failed to remit the application fee and produce a challan receipt for it. They had also not produced a notarised undertaking, according to News18.

The politicians may now file an appeal under Rule 9 of the Laccadive Minicoy and Amindivi Islands (Restriction on Entry and Residence) Rules, 1967, to the administrator.

Apart from Congress and Left parties, the Dravida Munnetra Kazhagam has also voiced its protest against Patel’s new rules for the Union Territory.

On June 14, residents observed a “black day” as Patel on Monday arrived in the Union Territory to meet officials and review the progress of various development projects. On June 28, the islands’ residents staged a protest against the administration’s order to impose a fine on them if coconut and palm leaves, shells or trunks are found in and around their homes.