Lakshadweep bars Congress MPs’ visit, says they may disturb peace

Party leader Prathapan calls it denial of freedom of movement, plans to appeal to Administrator

There has been growing unrest in Lakshadweep over the contentious decisions taken by administrator Praful Khoda Patel.

Amid growing strife in Lakshadweep, the Union Territory’s (UT) administration on Sunday turned down the application of Congress MPs from Kerala — Hibi Eden and TN Prathapan — to visit the island.

The administration said their visit might ‘disturb’ peace in the UT and also cause a surge in COVID cases. Citing a police report, it said the leaders’ arrival is likely to instigate violent agitations and cause unrest in the islands.

Media reports said the MPs can appeal to the Lakshadweep Administrator against the decision of the Collector. Pratap said the appeal would be filed on Monday.

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Eden and Prathapan had sought permission to visit the island last month, too, but were denied entry over COVID restrictions, said media reports.

There has been growing unrest in Lakshadweep over the contentious decisions taken by administrator Praful Khoda Patel.

‘Political action’

“The proposed visit of MPs from Kerala to Lakshadweep is likely to cause unrest in the islands as the political parties and leaders from the mainland have been making attempts to instigate local people, political parties/activists, social workers and people from different walks of life to oppose all administrative actions and to agitate against the Administration,” said Lakshadweep additional district magistrate S Asker Ali in the order.

“…the purpose of visit has been stated as ‘to understand the problems faced by the islanders due to the new policies of the Administrator’, which appears to be a political action,” the order further said.

Also read: More trouble brews in Lakshadweep, Kavaratti islanders get eviction notices

It added that it is the bounden duty of the administration to ‘avoid disturbances’ due to external interferences in the UT, which is a scheduled area.

Leader hits back

Prathapan hit back at the administration. “Collector says there will be a law and order issue if we visit islands. How?” he said. “Interacting with fellow citizens is not a law and order issue. We are submitting an appeal to the Administrator. If he also does the same, we will approach the high court and raise Lakshadweep issue in Parliament.”

He added that the action of the administration was a denial of the rights and freedom of movement of the MPs. They would bring this to the notice of the High Court, he said.

People in Lakshadweep are protesting against draft legislation like the Lakshadweep Prevention of Anti-Social Activities Regulation (Goonda Act). They feel it is not essential for their UT, which has a low crime rate. They are also opposed to the Lakshadweep Animal Preservation Regulation, and Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation, 2021, among others.

The Save Lakshadweep Forum has cautioned that protests will continue till all the measures are withdrawn.

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