KASHMIRI GOANS: Kashmiri migrants in Candolim can be found doing business everywhere — from massive emporiums and road-side stalls to open flea-market-type venues
BY RAJAN NARAYAN
And a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Indian fighter aircraft struck back at the main jihadi camp in Pakistan. For a Saturday following the week when the Pulwama massacre of 40 CRPF jawans once again demonstrated that Goa is the most peaceful and tolerant state in the country. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa version of the Madhya Pradesh Vyapam job scam hit the news. For a Saturday following the week when with the suspension of mining and the decline of tourism, builders became the biggest lobby in the state. For a Saturday following the week when maha chor Shivanand Bandekar, previously sacked from the Goa Medical College for private practice and stealing, was made both Superintendent and Dean of GMC.
BATTLE WITH TERROR
And a few stray thoughts on the early morning retaliatory strikes by the Indian Air force on the biggest camp of terrorists in Pakistan.
The target of the strike was the Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) training camp in Balakot, not to be confused with Bagalkot in India. India claims that the deputy chief of the JeM, who was heading the fire star training camp, Maulana Azar Yusuf, was killed in the two minute Mirage aircraft strike on the camp hidden in the jungle 60 km from Abbottabad, where Osama Bin Laden was killed. Though the Indian side is claiming that at least 300 terrorist trainers and handlers were killed there is no official confirmation. The strike was retaliation for the Pulwama attack, in which a lone suicidal terrorist drove a Maruti van packed with explosives into a convoy of CRPF soldiers killing 40 CRPF jawans.
The biggest risk that the armed forces and the CRPF face is when troops are moved when the capital of Jammu & Kashmir is shifted at the beginning of summer from Jammu to Srinagar. Srinagar is virtually 100% Muslim and temperatures drop so badly in winter that the entire government shifts to Hindu-dominated Jammu which is much warmer and vice versa. The polarization of Kashmir into Hindu and Muslim territories makes it easier for Pakistan to divide the two communities and encourage terrorism. The fact that a part of Kashmir is still under the occupation of Pakistani militants makes it easier for terrorists to infiltrate and attack Indian nationals, soldiers and policemen. It must also be conceded that Indian intelligence is very weak and this was dramatized two years back when armed terrorists managed to enter the Defence Security Corps (DSC) mess at the Pathankot air base.
Even this time around it is claimed that the high number of casualties was due to a failure of intelligence. Normally when the military convoy is moving from Jammu to Srinagar in Kashmir, private traffic is not permitted. Moreover this time around the entire CRPF convoy was sought to be moved in one long batch. It was simple enough for the militant to drive a Maruti van filled with explosives into the convoy, hitting a bus and killing 40.
What is alarming not just in India and Pakistan, but the entire world, is that this is the first air strike between two nuclear power nations. Both countries are headed by fanatics who are capable of going to any extent, including pulling the nuclear trigger, which will — if started by Pakistan — destroy not only the whole of Punjab, but even the National Capital Region.
Nobody denies the need for retaliation for the killing of the 40 CRPF jawans. But whether a Mirage air strike was the right answer will have to be debated considering the risk of a strike with nuclear missiles by Pakistan. India claims to have a missile shield but whether it will work or not is yet to be seen. All the major cities in the county are in state of alert including Goa which is quite close to Karachi and has the largest Naval Air Base in the country.
And a few stray thoughts on confirmation that Goa is called the most peaceful and tolerant state in the country despite having a BJP government.
After the jawans lost their life in the Pulwama incident, despite the attacks being from external terrorists, there were attacks against Kashmiris in particular and Muslims in general all over India. The martyrs of Pulwama hailed from various parts of the country, stretching from Kashmir in the north to Kanyakumari in the south, as the CRPF follows a policy of mixing its regiments so that there are representatives of all states and communities. This was decided as the CRP was conceived as a senior police force which could be deployed whenever and wherever local police cannot control the situation. We have seen this even in Goa when RSS and BJP workers targeted the police when they tried to attack the Muslim community during the Curchorem communal riots way back in 2006.
They were also deployed in Gujarat. Allegedly then Chief Minister Narendra Modi is recorded to have told the police to let the majority community ‘release some steel’ and not to interfere in the post Godhra jihad on Muslims. Narendra Modi was saved from being sacked by his mentor LK Advani though then PM Vajpayee wanted him to resign. Ironically, when Modi became PM he sidelined LK Advani.
Post the Pulwama attack, in Dehradun where there are number of very prestigious boarding schools, children as young as ten years old were targeted by locals and asked to return to Kashmir. In UP, students studying in various colleges and universities were asked to quit in their own interest.
Goa is the only state in the country where there was no violence of any sort, though there are many Kashmiri traders on the approach roads to beaches. Besides there are many huge emporiums, like the one in Candolim which stocks Kashmiri carpets and the much prized Pashmina shawls. There was of course no question of any hostility toward the Muslim minority community who now represent almost 20% of Goa’s population.
And a few stray thoughts on the Vyapam-like scams in Goa relating to recruitment of government staff. After doing nothing for a year, the government is in a hurry to fill up more than 50,000 vacancies in various departments in view of the forthcoming elections.
A large number of vacancies existed in the PWD Department presided over by Sudin Dhavalikar. There were over 500 vacancies for which a written test had to be conducted, following an interview. Under the Right To Information Act, GPCC Chief Giriish Chodankar discovered that no written exams were held. The system followed by Goa’s ministers is to first select a candidate and then go through the farce of recruiting candidates on merit.
It goes without saying that every minister gave maximum preference to candidates from his constituency. The majority of the security staff, ward assistants and a new category called assistants’ assistants created by Vishwajit are from Valpoi and Sattari. Most of them don’t do any work and consider it an insult if they are asked to do any work. This has been going on from earlier times when Vishwajit Rane was health minister and VN Jindal the dean.
Back then I had gone to the dean’s office because I wanted some urgent medical attention. He rang his bell and one of Baba’s peons turned up. He took me out of the room and promptly handed me over to somebody else. When I insisted that the dean had told him to take me to MRI department he confessed that he never had gone out of the dean’s office and did not even know where the MRI department was.
During a recent visit to the Casualty I found the so-called security guards very abusive. When I questioned them they threatened me saying that they were Baba’s men and could do what they want.
After recruitment to the Electricity Department, where there were lot of vacancies, more than 40% of the seats went to Nilesh Cabral’s constituency, Curchorem. In the case of the Accounts Department, written exams were held, but the commerce graduates who applied were given a complex maths paper. The results were cancelled but there was no sign of fresh examinations. All heads of the Commerce Department including Radhika Nayak said the papers were too tough and not suitable for recruiting accountants.
I recall an incident more than two decade ago when a young lady came to my residence in Dona Paula. She was a triple-pass girl who had aced both the written exam and her interview for a job in Kala Academy. She was asked for a bribe of
1 lakh and wanted me to see if I could get the amount reduced as she could not pay. Fortunately I knew the minister concerned and the director of Kala Academy, and they employed her without taking any bribe. This was not out of respect for me but the fear that I might write about them.
I can understand the desire of every Goan to become a government servant. Most of them are paid at least50,000 a month even at class three level and do not have to do work as there are no consequences. Besides there is the opportunity to make additional money, particularly in departments like Revenue, PWD, and the Police. No other organisation also offers two years of maternity leave. Working for the government is like achieving paradise. No wonder potential candidates are willing to pay any amount to get government jobs. The most expensive are sub-inspector, excise inspector and RTO, which offer maximum opportunities to make money. I know one of my former PSOs borrowed from his provident fund or took loans from money lenders to pay the bribe. After all, they are confident that they can recover the money by extorting money from the public.
And a few stray thoughts on builders becoming the most important lobby following the suspension of mining and the decline in tourism.
Just as in 2011 there was a huge tourism boom after Babush Monserrate introduced the RP 2011 where conversions from agriculture and forest commercial were auctioned, now there is a fresh building boom. During the preparation of RP 2011 builders were invited to come to Babush’s house and change the colour denoting various zones depending on how much money they paid. Fortunately the GBA was formed and RP 2011 was scrapped.
This time around the main players in selling Goa to the land sharks are Babush Monserrate with the help of Town & Country Planning Minister Vijai Sardesai. Babush is not an MLA anymore but controls four MLAs, namely Tony Fernandes of St Cruz, Francis Silveira of St Andre, Isidore Fernandes of Canacona and his wife Jennifer who represents Taleigao.
Babush contested against Manohar Parrikar and lost by a small margin. There are still questions being asked about any ‘setting’ or arrangement between Parrikar and Babush. In the earlier bye-election, when Sidharth Kuncalienker was contesting Parrikar’s seat, the then raksha mantri had persuaded Babush to withdraw.
Babush is too risky to make an enemy of. So Parrikar asked Vijai Sardesai to get Babush to join the Goa Forward Party. But Babush does not believe in offering anything free. He demanded the formation of the extended North Goa Planning & Development Authority which was supposed to include Santa Cruz, St Andre, Chimbel, Ribandar, Panjim, Taleigao and of course the Kadamba Plateau. In view of strong objections the NPDA was limited to Panjim and Taleigao.
We already know the damage Babush is planning to Panjim with areas like St Mary’s colony and La Campala Colony becoming 10- and 15-storey buildings in the name of re-development. This follows the example of Kamat Royal, which was built by re-developing some of the flats in the La Campala area.
In the case of Taleigao, Babush has got permission to build a 15-storey hotel for his other son. He already has a hotel for his older son who faces charges of rape. Interestingly this hotel, located just off the Dona Paula bypass, is among the cheapest — offering heavy discounts. Whether it is used for fun and games by politicians we do not know.
Babush plans to destroy Taleigao, the process was to have started with Regional Plan 2011. The kabrastan and the Taleigao church burial ground are apparently to be moved to the sea side, along with the jogging park and the garden. The baywatch area in Dona Paula next to Ocean View is expected to see a rise in FAR to 24 or 35. Which mean 10- to 15-storeys. The highest building so far is Shalom on the Dona Paula bypass which is 8-storeyed. The modified ODP of Taleigao which has been challenged in court makes no provision for water supply, power, roads, and drainage, let alone parking. The whole of Panjim and Taleigao is set to be a vertical slum.
And a last stray thought on the huge damage inflicted on the Goa Medical College.
Dean of GMC Dr Pradeep Naik, who used to head the Ophthalmology Department, has been sacked. His crime is that he did not accept the Central government offer to conduct diploma courses in super specialities as degree courses. It was no fault of his as the GMC just did not have the infrastructure for increasing postgraduate seats.
Ironically, though Vishwajit is talking about building a superspecialist block, Dr Tiwari, who does kidney transplants, and Dr Ankush Desai, endocrinologist, have to work on their own because they have no assistants. This is because since there are no postgraduate seats, the departments don’t attract enough interns.
Dr Shivanand Bandekar, who has replaced Dr Naik, was once upon a time the HOD of Orthopaedics in GMC. He was not only suspended but sacked from the GMC for taking away material from the GMC for his private practice. You could never find Bandekar in GMC but he did not just survive but flourished because he was very close to all the ministers.
Crooks like to work together. So the first thing that Vishwajit did when he became health minister was to appoint Shivanand Bandekar as the Superintendent in place of Dr Sunanda Amonkar, who was a favourite of one of the BJP leaders. Now that master crook Bandekar has been appointed as Dean of GMC, God save the GMC.
Another notable difference in the GMC is that Goans who pass out no longer seem to be interested in working in GMC. The majority of the staff continue to be recruited from outside. Originally there were no qualified candidates as the Bombay University did not recognized the degrees awarded by the Portuguese. This forced the GMC, which before statehood recruited through the UPSC, to recruit doctors — particularly superspecialists — from outside the State. However, most of the superspecialist departments, right from Neurology to Cardiac to Nephrology, are still headed by outsiders. Fortunately for the first time a Goan, Dr Jude Rodrigues, has been appointed the HOD of Surgery, replacing a corrupt senior Goan doctor, Dr Dilip Amonkar, who faced charges of criminal negligence.
The other dramatic change is that over 30% of the nurses are Malayalis. Goa continues to be a Mecca for migrants. We understand that several non-Goans are even changing their names to Goan-sounding names and registering their birth with the Civil Registrar in the hope that they can get a Portuguese passport.