PANAJI: The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) has demanded justice for the Christian Mesta Community after a recent High Court ruling invalidated the OBC certificate of AAP ZP member Hanzel Fernandes, a member of the Christian Mesta Community. State President Adv Amit Palekar has called upon the BJP government to contest the court’s decision, which negates OBC status for the Christian Mesta community, and address this unjust situation.
While addressing the media on Wednesday, Palekar highlighted that the Vigilance Cell’s comprehensive report had conclusively established that Hanzel Fernandes, the AAP ZP member belonged to the Mesta community, which is involved in the occupation of carpentry. The denial of OBC status and associated rights solely based on his Christian religion is ultra-vires the constitution and arbitrary.
Palekar further emphasized the potential repercussions of this judgement on students and youth who possess valid OBC certificates and belong to the Christian Mesta Community. He stressed that the recent court ruling threatens to nullify their entitlements, causing undue hardship and impeding their rightful access to their rights which were rightfully granted.
Palekar cautions against premature celebration of HC’s decision.
Palekar voiced his concern over some politicians who celebrated the court’s decision prematurely. Palekar urged them to read the judgement in detail before politicizing the matter. He clarified that the AAP ZP member, Hanzel Fernandes, had not submitted a fraudulent certificate as is being sought to be portrayed. The OBC certificate, being a government-issued document, falls within the jurisdiction of the government itself rather than being the responsibility of the AAP leader. He brought attention to the first page of the HC order, which shows the State of Govt as the primary defendant in the case.
Palekar said, “We firmly believe that justice must prevail over political posturing. Our demand for rectification is rooted in the principles of fairness and equal opportunity for all. We call upon the BJP government to uphold these principles by challenging the court order and ensuring that the rights of the Christian Mesta Community are protected.”
AAP’s Benaulim MLA, Capt Venzy Viegas, highlighted that the Commission report was notified in 2006, yet neither the Congress nor the BJP governments have managed to provide justice to the Christian Mesta Community since then. He pointed out that an OBC certificate was initially granted to Hanzel Fernandes by the then government in 2010. Furthermore, when Fernandes applied for a new certificate in 2020, the present government once again issued him an OBC certificate. Viegas questioned where the fault lies in this situation.
Viegas emphasized the need to avoid politicizing the issue and instead unite in the pursuit of justice for the Christian Mesta Community. He urged everyone to focus on the broader objective rather than engaging in internal conflicts.
AAP vows to challenge HC order in SC
Furthermore, Capt Venzy Viegas pledged to support AAP ZP member Hanzel Fernandes in completing his five-year term and expressed the commitment to take the matter to the Supreme Court. Addressing the political undertones given to the issue, he underscored that the mandate of the people remains unchanged. Fernandes was chosen by the people as their leader, and the party is determined to ensure justice prevails for both him and the Christian Mesta Community.
Also present at this press conference were AAP leader Valmiki Naik and Hanzel Fernandes.