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Stray violence mars Goa shutdown

india Updated: Oct 20, 2008 13:51 IST

IANS
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Stray incidents of violence marred a day-long shutdown called by a rightwing Hindu group in Goa to protest alleged desecration of Hindu idols. The 'Goa Bandh' saw good response with traffic off the roads and shops and commercial establishments shut.

Three buses were stoned in Mapusa, in north Goa, police said. Eight people were arrested after the incident.

The Mandir Suraksha Samiti gave a call for a shutdown on Monday to protest increasing incidents of desecration of idols of Hindu deities in rural Goa.

Government offices and schools had thin attendance.

Desecration of idols has emerged over the years as a contentious issue in Goa. While earlier, it was Catholic churches which were targeted, over the last few months Hindu shrines and temples have been repeatedly vandalised by unknown miscreants.

The government has already announced a reward of Rs.100,000 for any credible information leading to the arrest of the desecrators.

"There is a definite pattern to the desecration attempts. Someone is trying to ruin the communal harmony in Goa," Chief Minister Kamat told the media on Saturday. The number of desecrations in the last one year peg up to about 500.

Kamat's urging the people that full protection would be provided to those who wanted to defy the ban, appears to have fallen on deaf ears even in his own constituency of Margao, where the shutdown was near total.

The shutdown has predictably received support from the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), which claims the government is not doing enough to nab the culprits. "These activities are being carried out by the Indian Mujahideen. They are trying to instigate the people of Goa," Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrrikar claimed.

The church has also condemned the repeated desecration of Hindu temples calling the attacks "cowardly" and aimed at damaging Goa's social fabric.