Lakshadweep row: RTI activist seeks info on appointing Praful Patel as administrator

New Delhi: Amid the protests in Lakshadweep against the island’s administrator’s controversial new regulations, Right to Information (RTI) activist Saketh Gokhale on Friday sought information on the appointment of Praful Khoda Patel as the administrator.

In an RTI application addressed to the President of India’s office, Gokhale sought copies of correspondence between the central government and the president’s office regarding Patel’s appointment.

Besides, he also sought copies of recommendations, inputs and advice for his appointment received from the PMO, union cabinet, council of ministers.

In his application, Saket Gokhale also requested the president’s office to furnish all complaints and grievances received against Patel, since his appointment on December 5, 2020.

What is happening in Lakshadweep?

Ever since Praful Khoda Patel has been appointed as the administrator of the island, following the death of the former administrator and IPS officer Dineshwar Sharma, he had been passing unilateral decisions in the name of reforms.

They attracted widespread resentment among the islanders, besides others on mainland India, who said that the changes are aimed at “destroying the unique culture and tradition” of the islands. About a dozen MPs including Mohammed Faizal, who represents the Island, sent letters to the President seeking his immediate recall.

His contentious reforms include passing of the Goonda Act that gave powers to police to detain anyone, introduction of the two-child norm for candidates contesting local body elections, removal of non-vegetarian food items from school menus among others.

Patel has also been accused of completely changing COVID-related SOPs, easing restrictions, including mandatory quarantine, which led to a sharp spike in COVID-19 cases, given the island’s small area.

Lakshadweep island’s population is 97 percent Muslim and the authoritative policies by the administrator, who is a close aide of PM Modi, are seen by many as an extension of the Hindutva project.