Lakshadweep: 12 Congress activists arrested in Kiltan island for protesting Collector’s remarks

Lakshadweep police on Thursday arrested 12 Congress workers in Kiltan island after they conducted protests against the Lakshadweep Collector S Asker Ali who defended the new regulations of the Union Territory’s administration. Photo: Special arrangement

In the first sign of a crackdown on dissents against Lakshadweep administrator Praful K Patel over draconian regulations that are seen as challenging the existence of islands, Lakshadweep Police on Thursday arrested 12 Congress workers in Kiltan island after they conducted protests against the Lakshadweep Collector S Asker Ali who defended the new regulations of the Union Territory’s administration.

According to Dweep Diary, the only digital news platform in Lakshadweep, the arrestees include Kilthan Island’s Congress block president Rahmathullah.

Dweep Diary reported that the arrestees will face legal action under the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, which lays down punishment as per Section 188 of the Indian Penal Code, for flouting COVID-19 lockdown orders.

Section 188 of the IPC states that any person who disobeys an order given by a public servant, can be imprisoned for upto one month.

Lakshadweep Collector S Asker Ali held a press conference in Kerala’s Kochi on Thursday and called the protests in the island against new regulations as a “motivated misinformation campaign, which does not represent those living in Lakshadweep”.

While talking about the draconian “Anti-Social Activities Regulation” which has drawn a lot of objections from the people of island, Collector said Lakshadweep has made tough laws like any other state as internal security is becoming a “major issue.”

“Strict and stringent laws are needed, so the young people are not misguided. People with vested interests are driving propaganda against such strict laws,” he told reporters.

“So when we plan to develop this island holistically we cannot compromise on the Law and Order fronts. Lakshadweep is very peaceful. But now few cases are emerging”, he said, responding to queries on draconian Goonda Act.

The bureaucrat also claimed that there is an increase in crime in Kiltan, one of the populated islands of Lakshadweep.

While condemning the arrests of Congress workers in Kiltan, Lakshadweep Congress unit general secretary MK Koya said that they will stage protests across Union Territory of Lakshadweep coming days.

Protest held by CPIM activists against Collector in Kavaratti island. Photo: Special arrangement

Many demonstrations against Lakshadweep Collector were held across Union Territory where Congress, CPIM and other political party activists carried placards and demanded the apology from Collector, naming him as a liar and the implementer of the anti-Lakshadweep policies.

Lakshadweep newly-appointed administrator Patel’s recent decisions and draconian regulations have caused discontent in the Muslim-majority islands.

He has been accused of implementing Goonda Act in a place where least number of violent crimes reported in the country, banning beef products in a place the meat is widely consumed, demolishing fishermen’s sheds in coastal areas for violating the Coast Guard Act and revoking restrictions on the consumption of alcohol.

The former Gujarat BJP Minister of State for Home Praful Patel said to be very close to the Prime Minister’s office, RSS and BJP leadership.

Congress, NCP, CPIM, Muslim League and some other opposition parties have accused the Lakshadweep administration of “destroying peace and culture” of the islands. Island’s MP Mohammed Faizal, Congress leaders Rahul Gandhi and Priyanka Gandhi, NCP supremo Sharad Pawar, Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and Tamil Nadu CM MK Stalin have demanded that Patel be recalled from the island chain.