Cops book protesters, Cong leaders for rioting
A day after clashes broke out between protesting residents and the Goa Police, an uneasy calm prevailed in Xel-Melaulim village where the government has proposed setting up an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT)-Goa campus on one million square metres of land.
The Goa administration kept a strong police force of over 800 personnel on standby while officials remained huddled in series of meetings in a bid to work out a solution to the deadlock.
The villagers, who had besieged the local Valpoi police station on Wednesday, too decided to call off a fresh protest.
On Thursday, the Goa Police filed FIRs against a person identified as Vishwesh Prabhu and other unnamed persons for inciting, rioting and preventing government officials from conducting their duties, along with some Congress leaders.
“The Valpoi police booked Congress’s Goa unit general secretary Sankalp Amonkar, party’s Valpoi block president Dasharath Mandrekar, the block’s women’s cell chief Roshan Desai and social activists Rama Kankonkar, Ranjeet Rane and others for instigating the crowd,” a senior police official said.
The protesting villagers, who have set up a blockade at the entrance to the proposed site for the IIT, have for several months now been refusing to allow government surveyors to demarcate the land to be handed over for the construction of an IIT.
Things reached a head on Tuesday when villagers forced surveyors to retreat. When the villagers continued to squat on the site on Wednesday, the police charged them with batons, which led to clashes.
The Goa government has claimed that since it is government revenue land, ownership claims by villagers have no legal basis. Villagers have said that it was a colonial injustice that the government has continued in denying them rights to forested land that have sustained their families for generations.