Konkani youth storm Panaji

| 05 July 2000 23:53 IST

Over 1000 students and youth, along with veteran Konkani writers and tiatriats, at a rally held in Panaji today issued a clear-cut warning to all the 40 legislators not to play with the future of Goa by changing the existing official language act and face the wrath of Goan youth.

After marching through the streets of Panaji, the morcha which began from Azad Maidan after paying tributes to martyrs at 3.30 pm, culminated into a public meeting at the Mandovi bridge, where it was stopped by the police. Over 600 protesters among them then courted arrest while trying to break the police cordon at 6.30 pm.

Shridhar Kamat, leader of the Goa Hit-Rakhan Manch who led a five-member delegation of youth to chief minister Francisco Sardinha later told the gathering that they have been categorically assured by the chief minister that not a single word in the act would be changed.

"Mr Sardinha has told us that he would not compromise with the future of Goa and Goans even if it costs him his chair", said Kamat amidst applause at the meeting. The delegation also consisted of Shaba Kurtarkar (Sattari), Johnson Fernandes (Quepem), Eknath Naik (Ponda) and Manohar Naik (Curchorem).

At a public meeting held at the Mandovi bridge, Konkani Projecho Avaz convenor Pundalik Naik warned the legislators not to underestimate the strength of the Konkani movement, like it was done by then rulers in 1987 when Goans in a similar manner had marched to the Assembly on 29 July.

"Today's symbolic morcha is a clear signal that it can turn into a prairie fire if both the amendment bills are not drowned into Mandovi", he said. Thirteen years have passed and the movement has now reached nook and corner of Goa with the young generation realising that their future lies in their own mother tongue and not anywhere else, Naik added.

The most significant thing of the morcha was that most of the youth came from the intrior places like Pernem, Bicholim, Sattari, Quepem, Sanguem and Canacona talukas, which were earlier considered to be pro-Marathi protagonists.

GHM spokesman Prashant Naik once again clarified that the movement is not being waged to oppose Marathi but to make it official language as it would prove fatal for all the unemployed youth who are searching for jobs in government and private establishments.

While appealing to the government to strictly implement the recruitment rule of making knowledge of Konkani essential in jobs, Naik also warned that the GHM henceforth would not tolerate a single outsider being recruited in government service, by sidelining a deserving Goan candidate.

Veteran tiatrist M Boyer expressed regrets that there are elements in the Goan society who have compelled an aged man like him to come on roads to fight to preserve the Goan identity and his mother tongue Konkani. "I do not mind it and will keep on fighting till my last breath", he said.

Trade union leader Raju Mangeshkar also in his fiery speech said that the real strength of the Konkani movement has always been the people of Goa and not the selfish-minded elected representatives. He warned not to play with peoples' sentiments any more.

Also spoke at the meeting were Wilmix Mazarello, Curchorem councillor Sudhakar Naik, Pradip Kakodkar, Sanjay Lambor, Anita Betkikar, Prasad Pagi, Pobr Fernandes, Agnel D'Silva, Dr Ulhas Karpe and Harish Kamat.

Total eight police vans were engaged into arresting the marchers, where the court arrest was led by Adv Uday Bhembre, M Boyer, John Clara, Tukaram Shet, Mathany Saldhana, Dilip Borkar, Pundalik Naik and Prashant Naik.

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