VASCO: A large number of local residents, along with anti-coal activists and leaders, on Friday issued a final warning to the Railway authorities, warning of mass agitation and even taking the law into hands if the need arises.
Velsao villagers accused the railways of forcibly damaging fences of private properties to bring in heavy machinery to carry out double-tracking works.
The villagers also said that the Railways had begun entering the people’s houses under the police protection for demarcation while claiming private properties and houses as the Railway properties.
The Velsao villagers put up a United front on Friday morning to show solidarity with the landlord and waited anxiously to meet the RVNL officials who had on Thursday assured the villagers that they would come with their property papers while requesting the landlord to get their property papers.
The railway officials, however, gave the villagers yet another slip, and only one Railway employee arrived but failed to speak to the locals and look at the local landlord’s property papers, enraging the villagers further.
Finally, the villagers have now said that they have had enough of the hide-and-seek game and said that from now on, the entire Village will come on the tracks and fight the railways and police officials to stop the double tracking works.
“Enough is enough; we have had too much of the hide-and-seek game. The railways have removed our boundary poles, and besides encroaching on private lands, they have now started to enter houses for demarcation. We will now go across all villages of Velsao, Cansaulim and Pale and bring the entire Village on the tracks and fight the Police and Railway authorities and, if required, even take the law into our own hands on a massive scale. It’s time to do or die because our patience is finally over,” said a Velsao villager while issuing the final warning to Railways.
Speaking to the media, Congress leader Olencio Simoes alleged that the Cortalim MLA Anton Vas was hand in glove with the Railway authorities and equally responsible for the sufferings of the locals.
“The railways are doing what they want, entering private properties and opening access on different sides without fear of law. The MLA Anton Vas is hand in gloves with the railways and directing the police and Dy Collector to support the railway and not the people, and despite several memorandums, he has never come on site. The villagers will do what is necessary if the Railways destroy our peace,” he said.
He said they are having continuous confrontations with the railways. Finally, the landlords marked their properties using a surveyor, but the state administration damaged the fences and gave access to railways through private lands under police protection, and the Railways have already encroached around 1.5 meters of the private properties for this work. If the survey done by the landlords needs to be validated, the Railways should get the Department of land survey and records on site and check the records and area. If the railways do not agree to our survey, why should we agree to their survey because we have property papers that show that the existing tracks are in our lands? The administration that is supposed to protect the people is protecting the encroachers. We will re-install the fences and take law in hands if required,” said Simoes.
Goencho Ekvott founder Orville Dourado said that they could not keep the people under control any further.
“We had arrived on Thursday evening after the railways damaged the fences of a landlord to give access to their machinery under police protection. The railway officials assured us to meet us today morning with their documents, but no one has come, and they have sent one small-time employee,” he said
The railways must show their land title documents to prove their claim because we have clear documents since the Portugese-era known as “Inscription Description” issued by Revenue Department to support our claim.
“We want peace in our Village and don’t want any law and order situation, but the authorities are forcing us to come on the roads, and the people are agitated. We don’t know what will happen, and we will not be able to control the villagers any further because the railways have trespassed on private properties, and now they have started to go into the houses of the people besides landfilling our drainage systems and Nullahs that empties into tributaries of River Sal,” he said.
Former Cortalim MLA Alina Saldanha said that Railways had no documents in hand and hence had given the villagers yet another slip.
“I even spoke to the Railways GM who says that the land belongs to the Government, but they have no documents to prove their land ownership. The railways had assured us to show their land ownership papers, but they seem to have nothing in hand. The railways are showing the village survey plan with different survey numbers belonging to different landlords of the Village, which does not prove any ownership of the Railways on the land that they are working. How can Railways enter into someone’s property and claim that it is their land, and start working on it as if there is no law at all?
“The Government must set the right example and take action on Railways who are working without permissions and ownership papers. I want to ask the Government if there is any state of the law in Goa or can anyone do anything that they want in anyone’s properties,” said Saldanha.