PANAJI: A week after the Police brutalities on Pissurlem farmers, the farmer’s group under the banner of Concerned Citizens of Goa met the DGP on Monday and submitted a memorandum and demanded strict action on police officers for unleashing violence on the innocent farmers.
In the memorandum, the farmers wrote about the increasing misuse of their powers by police officers, who are seen protecting illegal acts, using force against those defending the law and the land, and even taking the law in their own hands.
The farmers said the socio-economic and environmental fabric of the State and country are threatened by corporate greed and defended by ordinary citizens.
“The destruction of forests, agricultural lands, water bodies and the environment for real estate, mining or infrastructure for corporate profits are crimes against our future generations, deserving the highest punishment. In this struggle to defend the rights of our future generations from our own greed, it is seen that the police force inevitably sides with the profit and not the citizens, the Nation or the future generations,” the CCG said.
Further, they added that there has been a spate of illegal activities in the recent past, being blindly protected by the police and violent police action against those defending the lands or even questioning the destruction in the recent past.
“On 16th March 2022, the Sarpanch and other residents of Mayem village in Bicholim taluka were pointing out blatant illegalities in the ore transportation leading to unregulated dust pollution and severe water scarcity problems faced by the villagers were arrested for questioning the illegal ore transportation. The photographs clearly show the violation of the circulars and orders issued in the past for prevention of dust
pollution while transporting ore, yet the police officials did not implement the laws or wait for officials from the Mines Department, but instead ordered the continuation of the illegal ore transportation and arrested those insisting on the Rule of Law,” they said.
CCG says on 15th March 2022, Daffodils Hotels Pt Ltd, PSI Shreedhar Kamat, with other police officers, abused his powers to protect completely illegal construction activities of Daffodils Hotels Pt Ltd Arossim village, Mormugao taluka.
“It has been confirmed now by the TCP officers that the work is completely illegal since it has no valid Technical Clearance from the TCP Department. The Police Officer did not bother calling the TCP Department officers or the Panchavat officers and directly came to the site to protect the illegal construction work and threatened and intimidated the local residents demanding to see valid permissions.
Recently, they said, on 11th March 2022, PI Prajyot S Phadte and DySP Sagar Ekoskar forcibly ordered the commencement of illegal ore transportation at Pissurlem village in Sattari taluka, arrested innocent tribal farmers and brutally assaulted Mr Hanumant Parab within the Valpoi Police Station, Valpoi, Goa.
“The officers of the Mines, Department were to inspect the site on the same morning for whom the farmers were waiting, but the police officers violently attacked the farmers and arrested them without waiting for the arrival of the officials of the mines department. The entire episode, especially how the mining trucks arrived on
the site immediately after the arrival of the police officers, the orders of the police officers to commence mining transportation without waiting for the Mines department officials and the abuse of police powers reveal the nexus between the police officers and
illegal mining interests,” CCG states.
It further says, large stretches of sloping, forested/ agricultural lands in Cuncoliem village, Ponda taluka belonging to the Mangeshi temple and used by the tribal community of Mangeshi have been illegally usurped by various persons for illegal subdivision into plots for sale. One of the present MLAs is alleged to have invested illegal mining loot in part of this land and is determined
to carry out the illegal sub-division at any cost. While the tribal residents are trying to stop the destruction using legal avenues and their right to inspect and verify permissions and question the authorities, the police officers protect the illegal works and intimidate the tribal villagers.
Pointing to the ongoing construction of the road to Mopa Airport, they said, is completely illegal since it is being carried out without the mandatory Environmental Clearance.
“Thousands of residents of Dhargalim, Varconda and Casarvanem villages of Pernem taluka are being completely dispossessed, and lakhs of trees that sustain
they are being felled under police protection. Brutal police force has been used against indigenous communities, women and senior citizens in the most heartless manner and without resorting to reason, logic, discussions and review of the permissions obtained,” CCG said.
The Government Departments have been emboldened
by the police, protection to refuse to meet or discuss with the protesting citizens and to rely upon the police force to carry out the works without any discussions or reasoning that form the foundation of our democracy. “The police force should have been used to maintain the status quo and defend the trees, the local farmers, and the future generations until the matter is discussed
and resolved between the Government Departments and the citizens,” they said.
The incident at Melauli village, Sattari taluka, where PI Sagar Ekoskar openly attacked the local residents to usurp their lands illegally for a Central Government project, is another example of how the police force is used against the people and the law.
“Though the project is now cancelled and the people managed to defend their lands and the environment, cases against the defenders of the law and the land
are still pending in the courts, while no action is taken against PI Sagar Ekoskar (now DySP) and others,” they said.
Pointing to another brutality, they said, on 18′” February, 2022 when Chowgule Mining company started ore transportation from TC No 13 of 49 through the villages of Bicholim taluka causing unregulated dust pollution, the residents of Shirigao village approached the transportation intending to suggest alternative roads and jetties that would avoid the dust pollution in heavily populated areas.
“However, PI Mahesh Gadekar came to the site with a police force and arrested 12 villagers without any discussions or presence of concerned Departments of Mines, Pollution Control or Panchayat. The Police Inspector kicked the villagers and abused and intimidated them,” CCG said.
CCG says the role of the police force in the blatantly illegal sand mining taking place across the State is shameful, to say the least.
The illegal sand mining in Zuari River by Rui Menezes, Panch member of Curtorim village panchayat and others, including history sheeters and hardened criminals with murder charges, takes place under police protection, they said.
“Scores of complaints filed by Abhijit Prabhudesai, Jose Coutinho and others have been ignored, and the police have come to the site in every instance only after
the sand mining operations are over. It is seen that the police allow sand mining trucks to openly ply without any questions,” they charged.
The citizens across the State are completely intimidated by this nexus between hardened criminals and the police and the destruction of lakhs of sq m of prime river bandhs, huge agricultural lands, fish ponds, thousands of coconut trees and cores worth fisheries, the decimation of the biodiversity and murder of rivers of Goa.
“There are numerous other instances where the police have been seen siding with builders and miners blindly, without verifying the permissions or waiting for the officers of concerned departments to decide on the legality of the construction or mining activities. Unless immediate steps are taken to stop this misuse of power by police officers, the rule of law in the State
will collapse totally,” they said.
Referring to the case of DySP Sagar Ekoskar as an example of the worst kind of patronage given to violent
DySP Sagar Ekoskar has been regularly seen defending
illegal mining from 2010 onwards. Before the illegal mining was stopped in 2012, he was involved in making arrests of tribals – only for questioning the illegal transportation in Caurem village, Quepem taluka.
He is said to be personally involved in the illegal mining racket.
In the recent past at Melauli village, he notoriously stepped upon the chests of old ladies lying peacefully on the ground in their own cashew plantations, leading to a major fight between the police and the local community, into whose lands the police were illegally trespassing.
However, despite criminal complaints lodged against him and his track record, Sagar Ekoskar has been promoted to the rank of a DySP! There couldn’t be a bigger encouragement to all police officers to be violent against the citizens. The recent assault by Ekoskar on Hanumant Parab from Pissurlem inside Valpoi Police Station and other incidents of police actions against citizens are obviously encouraged by the patronage being given to Ekoskar and failure to act against erring officers.
“We also wish to remind you of the extreme violence faced by tribals and others fighting illegal mining at the hands of or with the connivance of police officers. The cases of Nilesh Gaonkar of Caurem, who was assaulted at Verna Industrial Estate with iron rods and Ravindra Velip, also from Caurem, was brutally assaulted inside
the Sada Jail, while the CCTV cameras were mysteriously turned off,” they said.
They said, it is feared that unless immediate steps are taken by you to stop the misuse of police powers and to bring in guidelines to protect the citizens and maintain the status quo until democratic processes can be completed, there will be a total collapse of the law and order situation in the State at the hands of corrupt forces trying to make short term gains from the destruction of the Nation.