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Lakshadweep MP claims administrator never tried to understand islanders' culture

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New Delhi, May 31: Administrator Praful Patel has been to Lakshadweep for just 15-20 days in the past five months, and cared little to understand the islanders' culture and ecology, its MP Mohammed Faizal said. Faizal asserted that a legal recourse would be sought if the Centre went ahead with the controversial laws for the archipelago.

Lakshadweep MP claims administrator never tried to understand islanders culture

The NCP leader, who has been demanding recall of Patel as administrator, said the draft laws were being opposed by every section of the Lakshadweep society, even the local BJP leaders.

He alleged that the draft legislations were in blatant violation of the Supreme Court guidelines for carrying out developmental work on the ecologically-sensitive islands. Patel was given the charge of the Lakshadweep administrator following the death of Dineshwar Sharma in December last year.

Faizal said Patel was trying to have a "one-man show" on the islands without consulting the locals or even their representatives. "He (Patel) is completing five months after assuming charge. In these five months, his presence on the islands must have been for 15-20 days.

He has never been to the island to the understand its people concern, their heritage and culture," Faizal told a news agency in a telephonic interview.

The Lok Sabha MP said Patel had been pushing for laws that have riled the islanders, majority of whom are Muslims. The legislations include ban on cow slaughter, two-child norm for those wanting to contest the panchayat elections and allowing liquor to be served at resorts on inhabited islands.

The Population Foundation of India said the proposed two-child norm was "suicidal" and defied all logic. The NGO pointed out that according to the National Health and Family Survey of 2019-2020, Lakshadweep had a total fertility rate of 1.4, which is far less than the national average of 2.2 and a cause for concern.

People also have apprehensions about the draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation (LDAR) and the draft Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (LPASAR), Faizal said.

The LDAR is aimed to oversee development of towns on the islands with sweeping changes in the way land can be acquired and utilised. The LPASAR provides for powers to detain a person for up to a year to prevent him from "acting in any manner prejudicial to the maintenance of public order".

A group of locals have already challenged the draft laws in court. "If the Centre goes in the support of Praful Patel, the next option for us is to approach the courts for interference," Faizal said.

"We will continue to oppose this politically with the Centre to hear our voice and consider our genuine demands." Administrators play a crucial role in a place like Lakshadweep. If any officer commits a mistake, people rush to the administrator to find "final solace", according to Faizal.

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