Goa’s Christian and Muslim groups met in a public meeting held at the Azad Maidan, Panaji, Goa on 22 July 2017 and attended by around eight thousand people. They issued the following statement:
We are meeting in the aftermath of a series of desecrations in Goa. We are also meeting in the aftermath of a pervasive hate campaign that is being systematically perpetrated in Goa by the right wing forces, at times with the command and at other times with the tacit acceptance of the Government in Goa.
We have observed how the ruling Government has been handling the investigations into desecrations in a simplistic manner. We have observed how the ruling Government has been dismissive of the calls for hanging beef eaters, implying Catholics and Muslims. We have observed how the Government has taken no action against this incitement of hate, sending a signal about its being a party to the very same politics of exclusion and elimination.
We have noted how laws and rules are being selectively and insidiously twisted to target the economies of the minorities in order to drive them into oblivion. We have noted how the Government has remained silent when businesses that minority communities are engaged in are being butchered, without representing the concerns of these communities at the necessary fora. We have also noted how the Government has been systematically distorting history in order to force a Hindu identity on all Goans. We believe that all these acts or omissions of Government have created a hate-filled environment that makes it conducive to desecrate crosses and graves in the cemeteries, and to normalize violence against minority communities by making it seem that they are asking for the same by their food and cultural habits and because of the religion they follow. Even as we strongly condemn the destructive acts and omissions of Government, we are seriously concerned that this will further graduate into lynchings that are already a matter of grave concern in other parts of the country.
We are also equally concerned about the labeling of the Muslim minority as terrorists, and about State anti-terrorism that have a history of introducing draconian laws that are ultimately used to suppress freedom of speech and expression, freedom to profess a religion of one’s choice, and one’s very right to live with dignity.
We have reason to believe that communalism and destructive development are two sides of the same coin. As we have gathered here, the chief negotiators of Governments from sixteen countries, including India, are meeting at Hyderabad where the people have no say in the mega free trade agreement called Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership. This agreement will barter away our basic human rights to investor corporates allowing them a free reign to maximize profits at any cost, without corresponding social, economic, environmental obligations.
We will no longer remain silent about this state of affairs where seeds of injustice are sown in order to harvest hate to suit their vested interests. We are determined not to rest until the Government plants justice, because calls for peace without justice have no meaning. We believe that only when there is an environment where every citizen and every community, particularly the historically marginalized, has a right to live with dignity, without discrimination and without a threat to their life and livelihood that justice can be seen to be done. Only when justice is planted, peace can be harvested.
According to a Herald report, cutting across religious lines, people gathered at the Azad Maidan in the capital, to condemn the religious polarisation in the State and the country on Saturday.
The public meeting was organised by Interfaith Alliance for Justice and Peace in Goa with the theme, ‘Plant Justice, Harvest Peace,’ where speaker after speaker condemned the government’s silence over the atrocities against the minorities and women.
Asif Hussain of Peace and Harmony said that the mission of polarisation will continue until 2019. “It is not about minority versus majority, its hate versus love. It is egoistic nationalism versus humanity. It is fascism versus welfare state. And that is why we need to up stand up now,” he stated.
Social activist Soter D’Souza said that the battle doesn’t end with the arrest of one person, therefore the solidarity is not just for any community or state but for the country and for the world.
“The police found something written on Francis’ (Pereira) vehicle as a clue and from there they had a doubt on Francis. Now he has said that in the prison the Israelis taught him all this. And if that is so, the police should see the clue that the communal tensions in the country have an Israeli hand behind them. They (Israelis) are teaching them polarisation in the prisons,” he said.
Journalist Raju Nayak, speaking at the meet, said that all religions have become communal and everyone was in the race to become extreme.
“The time has come to hold them responsible by their ear. Goa’s law and order situation has collapsed. None of the religious communities speak about the atrocities against the women who suffer the most, more than the cows,” he said.
Nayak said that everyone needs to introspect over the need to have religious structure by the road side, every community needs to introspect.
“Let’s create a symbol of religious harmony in Goa so that everyone visiting the state should be able to take it as a souvenir,” he added.
Meenaz Banu, a member of Jamaat-e-Islami Hind, said that while the world wanted to learn a lesson of unity from India, the recent situation is of great concern. “By attacking the sensitive issue there’s an attempt to instigate social disharmony. Today there’s an attempt to instil permanent hatred in the hearts of Hindus,” she stated.
“How can you take away the right given by the constitution of India to every citizen? It is the fundamental right to life which has been envisaged in the Constitution by the law makers,” Dalit activist Chandrakant Jhadhav questioned the right wing organisations