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Resist govt move against cultural identity, civil rights of Lakshadweep people: PFI

By Our Representative 

Popular Front of India (PFI), a civil society rights organisation, has called upon democratic forces to come forward to resist the Central government move seeking to endanger religious, cultural and linguistic identity and the civil rights of the indigenous people of Lakshadweep Islands.
In a statement, PFI chairman OMA Salam said, "The regulations and reforms being promulgated in Lakshadweep Islands after Praful Patel took charge as the new Central administrator of the UT are deeply concerning and violates fundamental rights of the people. The appointment of Patel, a BJP leader and a close associate of Modi, was a political decision with sinister motives, and in violation of the existing norm that requires UT administrators to be IAS officers."
According to PFI, "The unprecedented authoritarian measures being adopted under his administration can have a devastating impact not only on the daily lives of the islanders and destroy their unique culture and customs, but also will further damage the biodiversity and environment of the entire archipelago. The cruel decision to enforce a beef ban and the removal of beef from the school mid-day meal menu is part of imposing the Sangh Parivar agenda of saffronizing a predominantly Muslim population."
The statement asserts, the Islands had remained covid free for almost a year and until the revised Covid protocol was brought into force by Praful Patel despite strong opposition of the people. "The decision has led to the fast spread of the pandemic", it claims, adding, "Those who came forward to protest the revised protocol were arrested on stringent charges and imprisoned. Presently there are attempts to bring in the draconian Goonda Act in Lakshadweep, which is one of the most peaceful territories in the country with the lowest crime rate and prison population."
Calling this "a prelude to the repressive actions that await any political dissent that may arise on the island", PFI said, "Lakshadweep Development Authority Regulation undemocratically and unjustifiably restricts land usage and ownership of the islanders while granting unrestrained power to the government to acquire any land in the name of development."
It added, "The government is now demolishing the sheds used by the fisher-folk for parking their boats and storage purposes without any prior notice under the pretext of Coastal Regulation Zone norms. This is an attack on the livelihood of the people. It is to be remembered that the majority of the islanders depend on fishing for their living."
According to PFI, "Hundreds of temporary labourers were dismissed from tourism and other government departments. Strange laws and restrictions that are not in force anywhere on the mainland are being imposed on the people of the Island. For instance, the draft Lakshadweep Panchayat Regulation bars people with more than two children from contesting in local body elections."
Calling Lakshadweep "more than just a tropical paradise for our holiday getaways", the statement asserted, "It is home to people that have equal rights as all the citizens of India in addition to the special rights bestowed on them as a Scheduled Tribe. They have their own religious cultural and linguistic identity. Any attempt to take away their civil rights and endanger their unique identity is fascism."

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