BRUTAL: The police are alleged to have beaten up a seafarer Clint Rebello brutally when he got into an argument over a traffic jam in Assolna
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Rajan Ghate broke his 11-day fast after he was admitted to the GMC. For a Saturday following the week when the Congress in Goa seems to be in a complete mess. For a Saturday following the week when there were two incidents of police brutality over the last month. For a Saturday following the week when it was revealed that almost 30% of implants, whether cardiac or orthopaedic, are faulty or not installed properly.
GHATE GIVES UP
And a few stray thoughts on Rajan Ghate breaking his fast at the GMC on the 11th day. Making it clear that it was his own decision, Ghate broke his fast by accepting coconut water from his wife.
Perhaps Ghate realized that the Parrikar government has no respect for human life — either for the life of Parrikar himself, or that of Rajan Ghate. He understood that with the current government, even his death would not make any difference and would not achieve the objective of persuading Parrikar to quit or hand over charge to an acting chief minister.
I cannot help wondering whether Ghate received such poor response because he was an OBC and not a prominent citizen. I also cannot help comparing the indefinite hunger strike by Ghate to that of Prashanti Talpankar in 1989.
The then speaker Dayanand Narvekar had molested an 18-year-old clerk working in the Speaker’s office. A young Prashanti Talpankar of the Bailancho Saad, who was a part of the progressive youth movement, decided to go on an indefinite hunger fast along with a young student, Vasanti Panchal, who was just 16, and a former freedom fighter 71-year-old Vinayak Pariyal.
The fast was complemented by activists and organisations who launched agitations when the government did not act at first. Prashanti fasted for almost 20 days and there were fears of whether she would survive. But she did not falter in her determination and insisted that she would not break her fast till Narvekar resigned from the Speaker’s post. She not only won tremendous support from women but also from the then Opposition party, the MGP. The Santa Cruz godmother, Victoria Fernandes, also joined the agitation against Dayanand Narvekar.
Prashanti had the fullest support at least from the Herald which was then being edited by me. I recall Prashanti coming to see me in the hospital after Dayanand Narvekar finally resigned his post as Speaker. Prashanti had come to the hospital for a medical checkup after breaking her fast. I was in the hospital with severe spine injuries consequent to being beaten up savagely by hired goons of Narvekar.
In contrast to the support that Prashanti and the others received for their hunger strike, Ghate despite being a pioneer in the ‘Right To Information’ movement did not get enough attention from the media or the public at large. There were lots of posts on Facebook but these do not translate into support on the ground.
At the meeting held by activists and citizens convened by advocate Aires Rodrigues there were hardly a hundred people. Some Congress leaders dropped in but the only ones who extended continuous support were Girish Chodankar and Pratima Coutinho. Kenneth Silveira who is furious with Parrikar for not giving him the increased compensation for his land that he had brought in Mopa was also there most of the time. I am wondering if the response would have been different if Dr Oscar Rebello or Datta Naik had gone on hunger strike.
The ground reality is that you either need political parties or citizens with a mass following for a movement to succeed. It was a futile fast as Parrikar neither resigned nor shed some of his shed of portfolios. According to the latest medical reports appearing in the Navhind Times Parrikar’s condition is getting worse. The medical report claims that he will have to undergo frequent checkups and that some of his sensory organs have been affected.
Indeed both Chief Minister Parrikar and the Governor landed up at the GMC last week. Parrikar for a CT scan and Mridula Sinha because her BP had fallen.
And a few stray thoughts on the collapse of the Congress in Goa.
The Congress is a house divided against itself. It did not take advantage of the fact that it emerged as the single largest party after the 2017 election despite its pre-election understanding with the Goa Forward which secured three seats. With the help of the Independent Rohan Khaunte they could have easily formed the government. Because of the fight between Luizinho Faleiro and Digambar Kamat on who should become the chief minister, they lost Goa to the BJP. Vijai Sardesai had made it clear that Luizinho Faleiro was not acceptable for him as chief minister. The Congress high command was adamant that Luizinho should become chief minister. This led Vijai to switch to the BJP and with the MGP already in the pocket of the saffron brigade they formed the government even though they won only 13 seats.
During the last nine months of Parrikar’s illness the Congress have had several opportunities to topple the BJP government. The people of Goa are disgusted over the fact that there is no governance.
In the last two month there have been a series of crises. Like the formalin crisis where there has been an open clash between Health Minister Vishwajit Rane and Vijai Sardesai who is a close friend of Ibrahim Sheikh. Fisheries Minister Vinod Paliencar is singing his own tune. Karnataka and Maharashtra are threatening to boycott fish from Goa and even stop other vehicles. To make things worse the beaches were full of garbage just when the tourism season was picking up.
Apparently, though the beach cleaning contract that had been awarded to Drishti ended in August, it was not renewed. In the first week of August the lifesaving organization, which also had the garbage contract, stopped work. Tourism Minister Manohar Ajgaonkar woke up only then and started talking about the new tender. By the time the new contractor would have taken over the tourism season would have ended and the tourists would have fled Goa. Luckily disaster was averted in this instance. There is definitely some truth in the claim that Parrikar is still mentally alert and intervenes when his fighting colleagues mess up. Parrikar’s hand is clear in the order that Drishti will continue to clear the garbage for another six months.
The biggest crisis facing the BJP is the refusal of the Centre to either issue an ordinance or amend the Goa Daman and Diu (Abolition of Concession and Declaration as Mining Leases) Act to resume mining activity. Even Manohar Parrikar’s request on behalf of the mine owners seem to have been rejected by the Modi government.
The Congress could easily have taken advantage of the situation. They could have got the mining MLAs like Nilesh Cabral, Pramod Sawant and Rajesh Patnekar of Bicholim to switch to the Congress just as Subhash Shirodkar and Dayanand Sopte defected to the BJP.
The Central leadership is too busy with the elections in MP, Rajasthan and Telangana in AP, nobody has any time for tiny Goa which is only two seats in Parliament.
Girish Chodankar is very sincere and very hardworking. In theory the president of the GPCC is the boss of the Congress MLAs. But in Girish’s case none of the Congress MLAs extend any support to him to run the organization or join the protest. He is fighting a lone battle. The morale of the Congress is dramatized by the statement attributed to Girish Chodankar. The GPCC president is reported to have stated that while he was confident that he will continue in the Congress he could give no guarantee that other Congress MLAs will not dessert the party. Girish has reason to feel bitter as Vishwajit Rane son of eight-time Congress chief minister Pratapsingh Rane, resigned from the Congress and got re-elected as a BJP MLA. Subhash Shirodkar was a former GPCC chief.
If Girish Chodankar cannot rely on the loyalty of senior Congress leaders you cannot blame him for his frustration over the in-fighting in the organisation. The BJP is breaking up but the Congress is not able to form alternative government. The MGP is far more aggressive than the Congress in demanding the chief ministership and threatening to withdraw from the coalition. There is lot of sympathy for AAP but they have not been able to attract the masses and convince people that they are the best alternative.
POLICE IN THE DOCK
And a few stray thoughts on the sharp increase in cases of police brutality reported in Goa.
The first instance was of Anjuna boy Lester D’Souza, barely in his 20s. His crime was stopping to click photos at Fatorda after match against the Delhi Dynamos. Lester, along with his family, was clicking pictures at the fence of the football ground. A man in white ordered them to leave. They said they would leave soon and continued to click a few more pictures. At this the man got more support and the altercation became physical. Reports say Lester objected and tried to resist when his mother was pushed around by PSI Raunak Kadam. He was dragged onto the pitch and brutally beaten by Kadam, PSI Duttaprasad Toraskar, and others. When his parents tried to interfere they were also roughed up.
Cases of football hooliganism are very common abroad, particularly in the UK. But in this case there was no act of violence or even abuse by young Lester. The only charge against him was that in his enthusiasm he stopped to click photos on the way out. The police could have reprimanded him if they felt he was holding them up. There was no cause to beat him up savagely. Photographs have appeared of how badly the police beat him up.
The second instance occurred in Assolna where seafarer Clint Rebello was savagely beaten up by the police. The story goes that there was an accident on the Assolna road involving three other vehicles. The constable on duty had called the PSI fearing a law and order problem. When Clint was passing by he heard a horn and reversed only to be told to go away. He said “aauto mure” (mad fellow) and this led to a heated argument between him and the police. In retaliation the police beat him up very badly. Clint also says that the police threatened that they would not allow him to go back on ship if he reported them.
These are not the only cases of violence against the public by the police. Anyone who has been stopped for a traffic offense and has gone to a police station to lodge a complaint has probably experienced the arrogant attitude of police. This is particularly true of younger police constables and officers who think like James Bond they have license to bash up people, if not to kill.
The DGP, who came under attack on social media, has admitted that the police attitude towards the public needs to change. The DG has attributed the behaviour of the police to lack of proper training. To make up for the unruly behaviour of the cops the DG had ordered the suspension of the five cops who attacked Clint Rebello. The cops who thrashed Lester have already been suspended and an enquiry has been conducted.
The Goa Police should take note of how police in London act. A British cop, called a ‘bobby’, is a member of the most respected police force in the world. They don’t even carry weapons and are still very effective. This is partly because there is no political interference.
DGP Muktesh Chandra had admitted that the policeman who beat up Clifford had political patronage. The DG has warned that cops who do dadagiri because they got political godfathers could be dismissed. It is more likely that the politicians will get the DG transferred. In any case, Muktesh Chandra has so far mainly been interested in cyber cases in which he has a doctorate. I don’t think he has any control over the police force. There is also a war going on between the direct recruits from the IPS and those promoted internally through the ranks, who know Goa much better.
The root of the problem is the police training collage in Valpoi. Ideally the best policemen and police officers should be employed for training new cops and officers. Instead the job of principle of the Police Training College is seen as a punishment posting. Police officers who get into trouble or fall out of favour with the political class are sent to Valpoi. The situation is worse after the BJP came to power, since a lot of RSS types have been recruited. Their loyalty is not to the police but to the RSS. I recall that few years ago when the BJP was in power, there was a revolt during the passing out parade.
Our police need to be taught that they are servants of the people and not servants of politicians.
And a last stray thought on an international team of investigators from across the world, including the Indian Express in India, discovering a huge scam in the quality of implants supplied by the biggest names in the pharmaceutical industry. The implants include stents which are used for cardiac blockages, knee transplant kits, hip transplant kits and even the screws and plates used when there is a fracture.
The worst area where the equipment supplied by highly reputed firms is faulty is plastic surgery. The Express has disclosed that over 80% of plastic surgeons who do breast implants have neither training nor infra-structure. There are literally dozens of shops offering enhanced breasts in the gallis of Delhi. In breast implant cases, silicon is injected to make the breast larger. Videos of the operations show signs of rash and acute infection due to the unhygienic conditions.
In the case of total hip implant there are more than 300 brands, most of which are defective. In the case of stents there is a huge racket of harvesting stents from dead bodies of heart patients in the US and supplying them to dealers and hospitals in India. The situation so bad that All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) has a special ward for doing corrective surgery for those who have received substandard implants or have been victims of quacks who were not qualified to perform such serious surgeries.