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Pics of underwater protests from a small Indian island, which is fighting its local administration

Pics of underwater protests from a small Indian island, which is fighting its local administration
  • Public anger has been simmering over a number of controversial proposals floated by Lakshadweep’s administrator Praful Khoda Patel.
  • The islanders observed a 12-hour hunger strike from their homes.
  • Lakshadweep Development Authority is proposing to develop the island into a major tourism destination.
The smallest union territory of India, Lakshadweep, with a population of over 64,000 is witnessing a widespread protest by locals, for the past few weeks. Public anger has been simmering, in this archipelago of 36 islands, over a number of controversial proposals floated by Lakshadweep’s administrator Praful Khoda Patel.

The new administrator has been at the receiving end of a lot of criticism on the proposals as the locals perceive them as a threat to the cultural identity of the inhabitants.

“All the draft proposals have been in the public domain for more than two months now. Now the Central government will decide on ratification or any changes to the draft proposals. The approval will take some time as the priority of the government is to control Covid crisis,” Patel had said on June 1.

The local residents of the union territory have been expressing their angst against the new reforms introduced by Patel, in many forms. This included an underwater protest and a 12-hour hunger strike from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m., on June 7.

Lakshadweep residents hold an underwater protest

Lakshadweep residents hold an underwater protest
BCCL

Several islanders on Monday held an underwater protest and staged a 12-hour hunger strike. The locals fasted, while all shops and establishments remained closed except medical services from 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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Locals demand removal of Patel

Locals demand removal of Patel
BCCL

Protestors, underwater, held placards with slogans ‘Save Lakshadweep’ and ‘Save Democracy’. An organisation named ‘Save Lakshadweep Forum’ was formed to protest against the rules.

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Lakshadweep islanders sit on a hunger strike at their homes

Lakshadweep islanders sit on a hunger strike at their homes
BCCL

The islanders observed a 12-hour hunger strike from their homes to mark their agitation against the draft regulations, which also proposes a ban on buying and selling of beef and beef products without a certificate from a competent authority. While the administrator also proposed to lift the restriction on alcohol, allowing resorts to serve alcohol to tourists. Lakshadweep is the only union territory in India, where a ban on the sale and consumption of alcohol exists.

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Locals question the reforms with a peaceful protest

Locals question the reforms with a peaceful protest
BCCL

Residents opposed the draft Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021, which bars candidates with more than two children from becoming a member of the gram panchayat. However, the clause does not apply to those who have more than two children, before the commencement of the regulation. Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Act (PASA) or ‘goonda act’ was also included in the draft put forward by Patel.

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UDF MPs of Kerala protest outside the administrator’s office

UDF MPs of Kerala protest outside the administrator’s office
BCCL

United Democratic Front’s (UDF) MPs of Kerala protested outside the administration’s office in Kochi, Kerala, demanding the proposals made by the island administration to be scrapped, as they consider it as a threat to Lakshadweep’s culture. The local administration warned that strict action will be taken under the COVID-19 pandemic laws to deter crowds from gathering at public places.

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Loktantrik Yuva show outrage against the new administrator

Loktantrik Yuva show outrage against the new administrator
BCCL

Workers of Loktantrik Yuva Janata Dal (LJD) poured cow dung over the effigy of Patel to protest against the Lakshadweep Development Authority, which proposed to develop the island into a major tourism destination. Residents alleged that it will threaten the island’s character.

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