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Lakshadweep: Kerala Assembly to move resolution against reforms rolled out by administrator

Collector S. Asker Ali insisted they were being done to turn the isles into another Maldives by ushering in tourism projects
Praful Khoda Patel.

Our Special Correspondent   |   Bangalore   |   Published 28.05.21, 02:11 AM

The Kerala Assembly is planning to move a resolution against the controversial reforms being rolled out by the Lakshadweep administrator after several lawmakers from across the political spectrum extended support to the cause of the islanders.

While chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan is likely to move the resolution next week, leader of the Opposition V.D. Satheesan of the Congress extended support to ensure its smooth passage.


Newly appointed Speaker of the Assembly, M.B. Rajesh, on Thursday told reporters that there were several suggestions for a resolution against the goings on in Lakshadweep. “Suggestions (for a resolution) have been coming from several people and they will be considered,” the Speaker said.

The state Assembly had earlier moved a resolution against the citizenship matrix and another one against the contentious farm laws.

Satheesan condemned the controversial reforms being carried out by Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel who took over in December.

In the first official reaction, Lakshadweep collector S. Asker Ali addressed reporters in Kochi to justify the measures taken. He insisted they were being done to turn the isles into another Maldives by ushering in tourism projects.

When reporters asked him about the logic in bringing a law that would empower the police to detain anyone for a year without trial, Ali reasoned that it would “apply only to those who engage in anti-social activities. We are not going to arrest anyone and everyone”.

In justifying the law that has attracted widespread criticism, Ali pointed out how the Indian Coast Guard seized 300kg of heroin, four AK 47 rifles and a thousand live rounds from a boat near Minicoy island, one of the 36 islands that make the Union territory. Pressed for an answer about the boat and its crew, the officer hesitatingly said: “This is a foreign boat, but it happened around Minicoy.”

The coast guard had in March seized the Sri Lankan-flagged boat carrying the contraband off Minicoy in the international shipping channel and there was no involvement of anyone from Lakshadweep.

Ali accused local youths of engaging in drug abuse and drug trafficking and said the administration could not take a chance.

Asked for the number of drug abuse cases, Ali said there were 40 of them in the last two years, but quickly added: “It’s not just about the cases or numbers. It’s about the sense of insecurity among the youth.” He, however, repeatedly admitted that Lakshadweep was a very peaceful place and the crime rate was very low.

“No doubt Lakshadweep is very peaceful. It will remain peaceful,” but contradicted himself by adding: “This is an exotic island so anything can happen anytime.”

On the controversial two-child norm being brought for contesting polls, Ali said it would apply only in case two children were born after the notification of the law. But he didn’t go into details about the logic of such a legislation in a place where the birth rate is equal to that of mainland Kerala and among the lowest in the country.

On banning beef from mid-day meals, he said many states had already enacted laws against cow slaughter. “Many states have enacted cow protection laws. A law has been introduced in Lakshadweep along the same lines. Only those who are associated in illegal business and those who have personal interests are propagating against these legislations.

He also blamed “vested interests” while alluding to other contentious legislations such as the Goonda Act.

On the allegation of scrapping non-vegetarian dishes from mid-day meals at schools, Ali said fish and eggs were still allowed.

The Lakshadweep administration has rejected a request from the AICC to send a party delegation to study the issues in the isles. “The administrator rejected our request by taking Covid as a pretext,” Lakshadweep Congress president and former Lok Sabha member Hamdullah Saeed told The Telegraph on Thursday.

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