Following the spike in COVID19 cases the State government has decided to invoke Section 144 during the festive season banning large gatherings and parties. However, it is now being alleged that the government authorities are selectively targeting the Goan businesses while the non-Goan businesses have been left scot free.
In one such case, the partner of Titos Resorts and Hospitalities Pvt Ltd Riocardo D’Souza has written to the chief secretary and the chief minister alleging extortion tactics by Deputy Collector Kapil Fadte.
“I have to report to you that we were having a function in our privately owned property. We were first harassed by some Government officials who came to stop the function stating functions in public places are not allowed. When we explained to the officials that it was applicable to public places, public parks, markets, etc as per the notification itself and not to private property, they had no answer and left saying they had been instructed to carry out the inspection and report the same to Deputy collector, Sub District of Bardez,” he said.
Further, he stated, that within a span of short time one of our staff was told by the Deputy collector Bardez Mr Phadte to either stop the function or to come and meet him personally to which we have not responded.
“After some time the Deputy Collector of Bardez. told one of my friend that we have disrespected him and that he will exact a revenge by coming up with orders under disaster management act against Titos and he will also take a revenge against me. Both the people are willing to give witness. This I have to bring to your notice is an extortion racket done by Deputy collector Bardez for personal gains,” he said.
He says Toto’s been selectively targeted and gains have been sought to overlook the function, which he says is not illegal at all as it is made to be portrayed by Deputy collector for personal gains as the order does not apply to private property but only to public places.
“For that matter, there are several others like they Toy club, Barrel yan tree, to name a few; who have openly announced functions hosting big Dis and no action is being taken. (Advertisements attached) In fact, the public roads an beaches which are the Public places in the actual sense are crowded with people and there is not a single official going there to dispense the duties as obviously there is no money to be extorted there,” he says.
D’Souza further says he could have ignored this incident, but it is not just about me or Titos,
“I have to stand up for all the others who might have been caught up in this racket and may not have guts to speak. If this goes unaddressed then this will lead to a very unhealthy situation for the businesses, the workers and their families dependent on businesses and consequently to the Government Exchequer,” he added.
He further urged the CS and CM to look into the matter very seriously and take immediate actions in the matter including checking on the antecedent of Mr. Phadte and inquire into the assets held by him and his close relatives.
“What is also required is to have a briefing of these officers to have a stringent policy of not misusing the government machinery to scare people and extort money in the name of laws. I request and expect a conclusive response on the same at the earliest in the interest of justice and in conforming to the policy of Government of zero tolerance to corruption,” he adds.