KOCHI: Lakshadweep administrator Praful Khoda Patel, who courted controversy with a slew of reforms, arrived on the island on a week-long visit on Monday even as the residents observed a black day in protest against the reforms. The islanders tied black flags to poles along the road from Agatti to Kavaratti and erected billboards with slogans demanding the removal of the administrator and the rollback of the reforms.
Men and women wearing black clothes held protests in their homes as the island is under lockdown. Patel, who refuted the allegations, said there is no protest in Lakshadweep.
“I didn’t see any protest anywhere. Protests are only in Kerala. The draft Land Reforms Act was placed on the public domain seeking suggestions and we got many complaints. We considered them and the draft has been submitted to the Union government for approval,” said Patel.
He, however, refused to reply to questions on the beef ban and other issues. Meanwhile, the administration extended the complete shutdown on four islands — Kavaratti, Bitra, Kiltan, and Minicoy — by one week citing high prevalence of Covid. Night curfew on Kadmath, Agatti, Amini, Androth, Kalpeni and Chetlath islands will continue till further orders.
Lakshadweep residents clang utensils, raise slogan 'Go Patel Go'
Fishing and construction activities will be permitted during the shutdown with prior permission from the collector or BDOs. Lakshadweep has 576 active cases as on Monday. Kavaratti has 181 cases, followed by Androth (135), Minicoy (105), Bitra (40), Kiltan (34), Kadmath (29) and Agatti (22). Though Kerala MPs Hibi Eden and T N Prathapan waited at the Kochi airport to meet the administrator in person and hand over a representation seeking permission to visit the island, Patel changed his travel plan and went to Lakshadweep directly.
“We had got information that Patel would arrive at the Kochi airport at 9.30am and would be available at the lounge for one hour. We reached the airport to convey our protest in person and to give him a representation to allow a delegation of MPs to visit the island. But he changed his travel plans. We are planning to approach the court seeking a directive to the island in this regard,” said Hibi.
Lakshadweep district panchayat member K I Nizamuddin said: “As there is a complete shutdown on the island, we held protests at home. At 9pm, the residents switched off the lights and clanged utensils raising the slogan ‘Go Patel Go’.”