Police accuse protesters and congressional leaders of the riots
One day after clashes broke out between protesting residents and Goa police, an uneasy calm prevailed in Xel-Melaulim village, where the government proposed to establish an Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) campus in Goa in a million square meters of land.
The Goa administration kept a strong police force of more than 800 on standby while officials huddled in a series of meetings in an attempt to find a solution to the stalemate.
The villagers, who had besieged the local Valpoi police station on Wednesday, also decided to suspend a new protest.
On Thursday, the Goa police filed FIR against a person identified as Vishwesh Prabhu and other anonymous individuals for inciting, causing disturbances and preventing government officials from carrying out their duties, along with some congressional leaders.
“Valpoi police charged the general secretary of the Goa unit of Congress, Sankalp Amonkar, the chairman of the party’s Valpoi bloc, Dasharath Mandrekar, the head of the bloc’s women’s cell, Roshan Desai, and the social activists Rama Kankonkar , Ranjeet Rane and others for instigating the crowd, “said a senior law enforcement official.
The protesting villagers, who set up a blockade at the entrance to the proposed IIT site, have for several months refused to allow government surveyors to demarcate the land to be turned over for the construction of an IIT.
Things came to a head on Tuesday when villagers forced surveyors to retreat. When villagers continued to occupy the site on Wednesday, police charged them with batons, sparking clashes.
The Goa government has stated that since this is public revenue land, property claims from villagers have no legal basis. Villagers have said it was a colonial injustice that the government continued to deny them the rights to forested lands that have sustained their families for generations.
(With contributions from the agency)