When ‘educated’ villagers demolish huts of ‘deprived’ tribals… in Goa!

GOANEWS DESK, PANAJI | 19 October 2016 22:14 IST

It was shocking. A group of hundreds of ‘educated’ villagers of Bethoda-Nirankal march to the forest and demolish 13 make-shift huts built by a nomadic tribal community – Vanarmare (monkey killers).

Goa’s media flashed the reports of the incident that occurred on Sunday, 16th October, highlighting the plight of 80 tribals, including 30 children.

Based on a complaint filed by freedom fighter’s son Rajiv Narayan Naik, the Goa Human Rights Commission moved into action the very next day.

Besides directing the police to conduct inquiry and provide them protection, the Commission also directed to the Chief Secretary to provide them food, bedding and shelter within a week and ex-gratia compensation.

Based on directives of South Goa Collector, the police also registered an offence; but against unknown persons.

Looked like the government machinery is moving. But in reality, the police are doing nothing and not even speaking to the media on the issue.

The reason behind it is obvious.                                                               

Cooperation Minister and local Shiroda MLA Mahadev Naik has openly supported the villagers.

Apparently he conveniently forgot that his government has recently passed a bill in the Assembly legalising thousands of houses built ‘illegally’ by Goans on Communidade land across Goa, on humanitarian grounds.

And why inhuman attitude towards these illiterate and labour-class tribals?

“They have been provided with ration cards, Adhar cards and even election cards, without my knowledge”, says minister Naik.

Stating that some 4-5 people from the neighbouring Dabhal village helped the nomadic tribe to settle down, the BJP MLA advises these ‘rehabilitators’ to take this tribe to their private property and settle them there.

“This is a government property. You cannot allow such people here”, he says.

The tribals have long ago stopped their tradition of killing monkeys. The men and women are now the labourers, working in groups or individually in the surrounding villages.

Gopal Vasant Pawar, one of the tribals, asks what crime they have committed for which their huts are being destroyed by the villagers.

   

They not only demolished their huts and destroyed their belongings but even damaged the solar energy equipment that was provided to them by some social activists.

“The solar power was helping a big deal to us in the dark while our children had started studying at night. Our whole life would change if at least few of them study well”, said Pawar.

According to him, they have been residing in this area for three generations and they had no other place to shift.

Adv Satish Sonak, who argued before the Human Rights Commission, asks whether these so called educated Goans have forgotten our Pledge that all Indians are our brothers and sisters.

Sarpanch Poonam Sawant has denied her hand in the demolition action, but insists that these tribals should have been driven away from their village by the government authorities, based on their Gram Sabha resolution.

The villagers also had a meeting today evening, claiming that they were not involved in the act.

But panch Prasad Prabhugaonkar spoke to Goa 365 on camera (click here to watch), praising the bold action of his villagers.

“In fact there would have been more fun if the action was taken in a legal manner” he says, while expressing delight over the illegal action.  

Premanand Shilkar, panch of Nirankal where the tribal reside, has also told on camera that the action of demolition was supported by the Sarpanch.

“These are enough grounds to immediately arrest the Sarpanch”, feels Rajiv Naik, who complained before the Human Rights Commission.  

But the police are still sitting idle, not making any headway in rounding up the offenders.

While couple of social activists have raised their voice, no political party has come  forward either to condemn the demolition or the inaction of the police.

The reason is simple. It’s election time where it’s around 50 (tribals) against thousands of voters (villagers) of Bethora-Nirankal!

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