Residents of the islands of Lakshadweep on Monday held hunger strike for over 12 hours – staging demonstrations at homes, beaches and even under the sea – in opposition to a set of regulations proposed by administrator Praful Khoda Patel.
Here is everything you need to know about the rules and the agitations against it:
1. The proposed regulations are related to tourism, cattle and panchayat elections. Administrator Patel said the new rules will help the islands become a major tourism hub.
2. Patel is also the administrator of the Union Territories of Dadra and Nagar Haveli and Daman and Diu.
3. Residents claim that the Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (2021) will destroy the unique culture and tradition of the islands, covered by pristine forests and beaches, according to Hindustan Times. Nearly 95% of the 70,000 residents of the islands belong to the scheduled tribe community.
4. The proposals also include an Animal Prevention Regulation, which proposes a ban on the killing of bovine animals along with a prohibiting the consumption, storage transport or sale of cattle. The mostly Muslim population of the islands fear the regulations are targeting their food habits.
5. Another proposal being opposed is the Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulaiton, 2021, proposes disqualifying those candidates who have more than two children from the gram panchayat elections.
6. The Prevention of Anti-Social Activities, a draft detention law, gives Lakshadweep’s administration powers to detain anyone for up to a year.
7. These new regulations have drawn widespread criticism, with a number of political parties backing their opposition. The Kerala assembly has been one of the biggest supporters of the opposition to the proposals, passing a unanimous resolution to recall the administrator on May 31.
8. In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday, a group of 93 former civil servants expressed “deep concern” over the “disturbing developments” in the islands.
9. While highlighting that no such provisions have been introduced in north-east states or even in neighbouring Kerala, the group urged PM Modi to ensure an appropriate development model is finalised in consultation with the residents of the islands.
10. Union Home Minister Amit Shah has said the new draft laws will not be finalised without consulting local representatives.