Praful Patel

IMAGE: Lakshadweep Administrator Praful K Patel, right, with Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi. Photograph: Kind courtesy @prafulkpatel/Twitter

Praful K Patel , a hardcore RSS man, was appointed as the Administrator of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep, where 99 per cent inhabitants are Muslims, in December 2020. He was allegedly given the task of “communalizing the island as soon as possible.”

He has issued a notification banning cow slaughter… he has lifted the alcohol ban, which is against the will of the majority of people… snatched away the jobs of casual workers (in government departments) of Lakshadweep…imposed the Goons’ Act on an island where no crime was reported and prisons are almost empty all the time.

Seeking to arbitrarily control the ownership of private landholdings, “in our tiny islands where the total area is less than 5 sq. km” …it is frivolous.

“Unscientific altering of the SOP by him has led to the current surge in Covid cases in Lakshadweep where there was not even a single case reported in the year 2020.”

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Praful K Patel, former minister of state for home in the Gujarat government headed by then chief minister Narendra Damodardas Modi, was appointed administrator of the Union Territory of Lakshadweep in December 2020.

His appointment came after Lakshadweep’s then administrator Dineshwar Sharma, a former Intelligence Bureau officer who served as interlocutor for Jammu and Kashmir, passed away.

Praful Khoda Bhai Patel is a former BJP leader  who was a hardcore RSS (Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh man,  who is also currently being investigated in connection with the suicide of Maharashtra independent MP Mohan Delkar. The Mumbai Police on may 25 Tuesday registered an FIR against Patel, the former Gujarat home minister and the administrator of both the union territories of Dadra & Nagar Haveli and Daman & Diu after Mohan Delkar’s 15-page suicide note was found mentioning Patel amongst others.

Lakshadweep is a very peaceful place and people are peace-loving. They are secular and there is no ultra Muslim organisation in Lakshadweep, though 99 per cent inhabitants are Muslims. The Lok Sabha MP from Lakshadweep, P P Mohammed Faisal, belongs to the Nationalist Congress Party. The Congress has its offices and the Left parties also have a (strong) base. There is no Islamic organisation here.

The first law reform of the administrator since taking office was the implementation of the Goonda Act. Islanders allege that the goons’ act was undemocratic on an island where no crime was reported and prisons are almost empty all the time.

Alcohol, Beef, Electoral Politics and fishing in troubled waters

Patel has issued a notification banning cow slaughter, in Lakshadweep with Muslim population,  purely to create trouble, and fish in troubled waters. See the contrast:

BJP leaders from Meghalaya, Nagaland and Mizoram had said , in 2018, that Uttar Pradesh-style beef politics would not come to the North East. All these three are Christian-majority states. Cow slaughter is not banned in Arunachal Pradesh, Mizoram, Meghalaya, Nagaland and Tripura. In Manipur, the maharaja proscribed it in 1939 but beef is still consumed in large quantities.

In Assam, only cattle with “fit for slaughter” certificates may be felled. There the BJP followed what is best described as a limited use doctrine on Hindutva and beef politics.

The BJP leadership in Assam, with duplicity, defended the cattle slaughter rules, saying they had nothing to do with food habits. “There is nothing,” said Vijay Kumar Gupta, BJP general secretary in Assam. “This bill is only against cruelty to animals. This is not going to ban beef. Our party is very clear: sabka saath, sabka vikas. We respect all communities. The public and the leaders are also favouring the bill.”

In Tripura, where the BJP is emerging as the strongest opposition to the ruling Communist Party of India (Marxist), the party leadership echoed the same line. “There is no beef ban, that is the Congress and CPI(M)’s interpretation,” said party leader Jishnu Debbarma. “You just can’t trade cattle in the open market. It is hygienic and it is about prevention of cruelty.”

There would be no bans on beef, slaughterhouses or cow slaughter if the BJP came to power, BJP leaders assured voters in Northeast. They also said that the central leadership was aware of cultural differences in the region.

In 2015, Kiren Rijiju, a prominent BJP face from Arunachal Pradesh and Union minister of state for home affairs, had said, “I eat beef, I’m from Arunachal Pradesh. Can somebody stop me? So let us not be touchy about somebody’s practices.” He later amended this statement to say he never ate beef. He only supported the consumption of beef in states where it was the dominant practice – in Hindu-majority states, proscriptions on beef should be respected.

Islamic faith is against consumption of alcohol and that rule has been there in Lakshadweep. Alcohol was permitted only in five-star hotels in view of tourism. Now, he has lifted the alcohol ban, which is against the will of the majority of people.

(For more on Beef Politics, in Northeast, see articles by Ipsita Chakravarty, in scroll.in, Mar 30, 2017, Jun 03, 2017 https://scroll.in/article/833168/beef-and-the-bjp-what-happens-to-hindutva-in-the-states-of-the-north-east)

He has snatched away the jobs of casual workers (in government departments) of Lakshadweep. This was the only source of livelihood for the people of Lakshadweep and that too has been snatched away. There is no industry in Lakshadweep and it was a big source of employment to the local people.

Protests have also been stoked against the proposed implementation of the Draft Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation, 2021 (LDAR 2021). Social media users have termed the move as undemocratic as the regulations say that no legal proceedings can be maintained against the Government, Planning and Development Authority or any of its officers or persons duly appointed or authorized by it under the provisions of LDAR 2021.

The Let India Breathe page published a protest against LDAR 2021 on social media, highlighting the provisions of the act which also allows officials to search any of the homes on the island without a warrant or reason.

“It has stringent provisions that empower the Government (i.e., the Administrator) to earmark any land for Development Activities provided under this regulations. And once the land is so declared, the development and usage of the said land will be completely in accordance with the whims and fancies of the Government,” the post reads.

Section 92 and Section 93 provide for a provision to levy development charges and levy processing fee/fees for change of zones from the islanders. This means that islanders have to make payments to obtain permissions for change of zones in accordance with the Development Plan and are also liable to pay for permission to develop their own land.

“The Draft lacks any reason, merit or logic and is a mindless piece of regulation that aims to arbitrarily control the ownership of private landholdings. In our tiny islands where the total area is less than 5 sq. km these kind of activities are impractical and frivolous. And it can have devastating effects on the extremely fragile ecosystem of the Islands, its people, their lands and livelihoods,” tweeted Twitter user and island native Faseela Ibrahim.

The draft regulation further goes down to the extent of imposing severe punishment such as imprisonment by virtue of Section 119 for causing obstruction of work or workers under the Development Plan.

“The Centre is so hellbent on sowing division among cohesive Lakshadweep community. Weird new measures are being enacted by the current Praful Patel administration to the detriment of the predominantly Muslim indigenous population. This is a blatant misuse of power and must not be allowed,” said Kerala Lok Sabha MP E.T Mohammed Basheer.

Basheer also alleged that Patel who was appointed as the Lakshadweep Administrator was given the task of “communalizing the island as soon as possible”, further condemning the purported ban on beef in Lakshadweep.

Patel is also shifting operations away between Lakshadweep port and Calicut or Cochin airport to Mangalore airport in Karnataka. They want to change the culture of the Lakshadweep islands. A majority of the population is Muslim and they have a connection with Kerala and not Karnataka. Most of the people in Lakshadweep have families in Calicut or Cochin. Marriages happen and even for studies students from Lakshadweep travel to Cochin and Calicut. Now they (the government) want to change that. Now he (Patel) wants to divert all these things to Mangalore in Karnataka which is ruled by the BJP.

“Administration has also decided that islanders should no longer depend on Beypore (Kerala) for freight transit. Instead, they should depend on Mangalore (Karnataka) for this purpose.”

He is doing everything against the culture of Lakshadweep, whose 99 per cent inhabitants are Muslims. And, therefore, people are objecting to these moves and things have come to a very frantic state now. All these moves are triggering protests in Lakshadweep.

So much so that Rajya Sabha MP Elamaram Kareem of the Communist Party of India-Marxist has written to President Ram Nath Kovind to recall Patel from his post.

See full Text of Kareem’s letter here. (See in PDF format.)

In his letter to the President, Kareem stated that 38 anganwadis have been closed, 190 people have been terminated from the tourism department.

He said in his letter that the Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) in force in the Union Territory to curtail the spread of Covid was unilaterally changed by Patel. “This unplanned and unscientific altering of the SOP has led to the current surge in Covid cases in Lakshadweep where there was not even a single case reported in the year 2020,” he said.

He wrote, “New regulations including a ban on slaughter, transport, selling and buying of beef is an onslaught on the people. Hundreds of casual and contract labourers working under different departments have lost their jobs”

He further alleged that the Administration has demolished the sheds used by fishermen for storing nets and other equipment on the grounds saying that they violated Coast Guards acts.

The suppression is mounting and people may react. Therefore, the peaceful atmosphere should be maintained.


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