The Lakshadweep administration has withdrawn a controversial order mandating that government personnel be stationed on board fishing vessels in the islands, media reports said on Thursday.
It was on May 28 that a meeting chaired by the principal secretary-cum-adviser 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 order came even as opposition grows in the Lakshadweep to a series of reform measures introduced by Administrator Praful Khoda Patel.
The Hindu reported that Sachin Sharma, director of port, shipping and navigation in the Lakshadweep administration, had issued an email to officials concerned on June 7 on "orders of May 28 and June 2 ‘regarding strengthening of security in ports/ships and jetties’ and says that ‘as per further inputs, all concerned may revert back to standard protocol and SOPs (standard operating procedures)..."
The order to station government personnel on board fishing vessels had been criticised by the fishing community, government employees and even security agencies. "The Lakshadweep Government Employees’ Union had, the other day, taken exemption to the order asking for government employees to go on board fishing vessels for intelligence collection. The order was also criticised by fishers’ forums. Sources said maritime security agencies were also peeved with the order, which was interpreted as interfering with their jurisdictional powers," The Hindu reported.
On Monday, local residents in Lakshadweep held an underwater protest and staged a 12-hour fast demanding administrator Praful Patel's recall for his 'anti-people' measures and seeking withdrawal of draft legislation on development.