Panaji: Town and country planning (TCP) minister and Goa Forward Party (GFP) mentor Vijay Sardesai on Tuesday demanded that cases regarding vandalism of religious structures be transferred to the anti-terrorism squad (ATS) of the Goa Police and not to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), reports the Times of India.
He indirectly downplayed Michael Lobo’s outrage and tried to give the entire episode a different twist.
Calangute BJP MLA and deputy speaker Michael Lobo had on Monday demanded that such cases be handed over to the CBI for further investigation.
“I think the CBI will take this issue to a dead end. The local police force should either be pushed a little more or the cases should be handed over to the ATS,” Sardesai said.
When asked why he was not on the same page as Lobo regarding the agency that could further probe the cases, Sardesai said, “Lobo is a bit more excited; he has been more hurt and has made it clear that the CBI is the solution to all problems. I disagree with him. When we hand over cases to the CBI, it means we don’t have faith in our police.”
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After Dy Speaker and Calangute BJP MLA Michael Lobo’s outburst against the desecration of places of worship in Goa, Minister Francis DSouza, and now BJP Minister Alina Saldanha has expressed her shock and dissent at the happenings in Goa.
Goa minister Alina Saldanha in a statement issued on Tuesday has expressed shock at vandalism of over 100 graves at Guardian Angel Cemetery at Curchorem.
“It is very obvious that this act and others in the recent past, are aimed at destroying communal harmony in Goa.”
Saldanha called upon the police to ensure that the culprits are caught and punished.
“I would also like to say that individuals like Sadhvi Saraswati and others, who make hate speeches to destroy the peace and harmony of our Goa, should be permanently banned from entry into the state”, said Saldanha.
Calangute MLA and Dy Speaker Michael Lobo said Goa police have failed to identify the culprits involved in the incidents of desecration of crosses. If they can’t arrest those involved, the investigation should be handed over to the CBI, he said at a press conference on Monday.
Lobo said he suspects an “outside hand” in the repeated incidents of desecration of crosses over the last few days and this has to be stopped. “Investigation has to be handed over to the CBI if Goa police are unable to nab the culprits. Goa police are not working,” said Lobo.
The Calangute MLA, who has always been vociferous, said he will take up this matter with chief minister Manohar Parrikar once he returns from his trip to the US. Parrikar is scheduled to return from his week-long tour on Wednesday evening.
Saying the people were let down by the police, Lobo said “Somewhere, something is wrong” and suggested that police reintroduce the methods it had adopted a few years ago when similar incidents of vandalism were reported in Goa.
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The Goa Citizens Action Forum (GCAF) has accused Goa CM Manohar Parrikar of “not taking things seriously” and not “pushing the police force” to get results in the case pertaining to the desecration of holy crosses and idols in Goa.
Meanwhile, the Goa Church has expressed a “deep pain” over the recent incidents of desecration of holy crosses and vandalism of a Christian cemetery in South Goa and has decided to initiate a fact-finding on these incidents. The Church feels the motive behind these incidents was to fan communal passions in the state known for the religious tolerance.
“The Church in Goa is deeply pained with the recent spate of desecration of religious structures and burial places of the Christian community, along with a stray incident targeting the Hindu community as well in the state,” Archbishop of Goa and Daman Filipe Neri Ferrao said in a statement.
He stated these “violent incidents” seem to be designed by vested interests to provoke communal discord and promote religious hatred.
“While we strongly condemn the same, I personally appeal to our brothers and sisters of all faiths to refrain from taking any retaliatory action or even fanning the flame of religious hatred in their hearts,” the Archbishop said.
Our state has been known for its traditional inter-religious harmony and peace. Let us keep these sacred values at all costs, especially in these troubled times, when violence seems to have become the order of the day, he said.
“At the same time, we urge the government authorities to thoroughly investigate these acts of vandalism and to bring
the perpetrators to book,” he demanded.
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Savio Fernandes, Executive Secretary, Council for Social Justice and Peace, a wing of Goa Church, said they have decided to initiate a fact-finding on these incidents.
“National-level organisations would be arriving in Goa on 13 July. They will visit all the places on 14 July, where holy crosses were desecrated,” he told PTI.
Fernandes said the desecration was disturbing and the cause and culprits behind such incidents should be found out.
“A fact-finding team (comprising members of a national organisation) will prepare a detailed report after visiting the places and speaking to the people. The report would be then made public,” the priest said.
The Goa Citizens Action Forum or GCAF had in a press release directly accused and held responsible the Ramnathi Ponda-based right-wing Hindu organisation Sanatan Sanstha and henchmen of Sadhvi Saraswati’s group Sanatan Dharma Prachar Seva Samiti of Chhindwara in MP of being the masterminds and perpetrators of the continuous desecration of crosses, cemeteries and religious idols and places of worship in Goa over the last one month.
The GCAF also accused certain “hardliner, vested interests” from the Goa RSS, VHP and BJP units, of providing logistical support, moral backing and even financial help to the “hired thugs from outside” who have been brought into Goa for this sinister purpose.
The GCAF in a press statement echoed Dy Speaker and BJP Calangute MLA Michael Lobo’s assertion that an outside hand is involved in the dastardly acts aimed at creating communal tension and even riots in Goa and that the Goa Police are completely clueless in the matter.
Josephine Dias, spokesperson for the GCAF speaking to IndiaScribes.com from Mumbai said that the Goa Government and Goa Police have taken matters far too lightly.
“Tomorrow if tempers flare up and there are riots in Goa, the Goa CM Manohar Parrikar and the Goa DGP must be held totally responsible, Dias said, adding that the Sanatan Sanstha and the Sanatan Dharma Prachar Seva Samiti have prepared and kept ready a group of over 200 trained volunteers from outside Goa to “handle” any sort of “response” from the minority communities. Some of these out-of-state volunteers are already camping in Goa, but spread out in smaller groups in different parts of the State and others are parked near the Maharashtra border and can be rushed into Goa within hours should the need arise. The Goa Police is completely unprepared to control and handle any sort of communal flare up and the situation can go out of hand in a matter of a couple of days,” Dias stated.
According to various media reports including PTI, over 100 crosses, niches and plaques at a Christian cemetery in Curchorem town of South Goa were allegedly vandalised by unknown persons, the police said. According to Curchorem Police Inspector Shivram Vaingankar, the incident took place between 3 and 4 am.