Now, Lakshadweep issues order to deploy govt officials in fishing boats for ‘intelligence gathering’

MPs from Congress- led UDF in Kerala will organise a 'dharna' in front of the territorial administration office in Kochi on Monday against its "anti-people" reform measures in the islands

Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)
Representative Image (Photo Courtesy: Social Media)

NH Web Desk

Amid protests by islanders against its "reform" measures, the Lakshadweep administration has taken a set of decisions, including deputing government officials onboard local fishing boats for ‘intelligence gathering’.

The administration also issued a new order on managing cleanliness and hygiene, on June 4, directing the people of the islands to scientifically dispose of the tender coconut shell, tree leaves, coconut husk, coconut shell, trunk etc in and around dwelling and public places.

Lakshadweep MP Mohammed Faizal attacked the administration for its new directives, terming them as a "mockery" and urged the authorities to withdraw them immediately.

It was on May 28 that a meeting chaired by Principal Secretary cum Advisor to the Administrator decided to depute responsible government servants onboard local fishing boats for “intelligence gathering”.

The meeting also decided to strengthen the security measures to monitor the local fishing boats and crews, intensify checking of passenger boats and vessels reaching the islands and strengthen the ship berthing points and helibase by installing CCTV cameras.

The administration later gave direction to officials concerned to initiate action as per decisions taken on the meeting.

Faizal questioned the practicality of implementing the order, saying there are hundreds of fishing boats operating from the islands and how many officials are going to be deployed in such vessels.

Noting that a well-established system of surveillance by the Navy and the Coast Guard was already in place in all the islands, the MP said the Coast Guard headquarter in islands have an effective radar system which can cover activities of any vessels operating in 30 nautical mile areas.

Faizal said every month or once in three months Coast Guard is having regular interaction with the local fishermen to train them on how to report the movement of suspected objects in the seas.

"All this training is given to the fishermen. They are very cooperative with the security agencies. By introducing such a law, what are they (administration) trying to establish?" he asked.

Faizal alleged that the administration's actions showed that it does not believe the innocent fishermen community of Lakshadweep.

"The recent order, which has come in the way of surveillance on the coastal areas of Lakshadweep, is really a mockery .. I feel", he said.

Alleging discrimination, he asked why such surveillance using officials onboard fishing vessels were not happening in coastal states like Gujarat, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

Issuing the order on ‘hygiene and cleanliness’, the administration said whoever violates or contravenes any of the directions shall be liable for punishment with fine as per Schedule I of the Lakshadweep Solid Waste Management Bye-Law, 2018 and also be liable to criminal proceedings for offence punishable under Section 188 of IPC.

Questioning the provision in the order directing scientific disposal of biodegradable materials like coconut leaves, Faizal said the land of Lakshadweep became fertile because the forefathers who lived in the islands buried them in the soil.

He also said it is the responsibility of the administration to provide technology for scientifically managing the waste.

Asked whether he had taken up the matter with the Union Government, Faizal said, "I feel really ashamed of taking up such matters with them".

Meanwhile, the Congress has decided to step up its agitation against the administration for its "anti-people" reform measures in the islands.

According to party sources, the MPs from the Congress- led UDF in Kerala will organise a 'dharna' in front of the territorial administration office in Kochi on Monday.

Congress leader Rahul Gandhi had on May 27 written to PM Narendra Modi to withdraw orders “undermine the grassroots democracy” in the Union territory. In his two-page letter, he sought his intervention to resolve the crisis in Lakshadweep.

Attacking administrator Praful Khoda Patel, Rahul Gandhi, who a day before had labelled the Lakshadweep administration as “ignorant bigots”, reiterated, “Draconian regulations in Lakshadweep would penalise dissent and undermine grassroots democracy”.

“Under the guise of development and maintaining law and order in a low crime UT, the draconian regulations penalise dissent and undermine grassroots democracy,” Rahul Gandhi wrote in the letter.

“The administrator has unilaterally proposed sweeping changes without duty consulting elected representatives or the public. The people of Lakshadweep are protesting against these arbitrary actions,” he added.

Expressing solidarity with the people of Lakshadweep, the Kerala Legislative Assembly has unanimously passed a resolution demanding the recall of island administrator Praful Khoda Patel and requesting the Centres immediate intervention to protect the lives and livelihood of the islanders.

An archipelago located in the Arabian Sea, Lakshadweep has been witnessing protests by locals for over the recent actions and administrative reforms being implemented by Patel.

(With agency inputs)

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