By Rajan Narayan

AND a few stray thoughts for yet another Saturday. For a Saturday following the week when Bombay-style goondagiri is coming to Goa. For a Saturday following the week with the imminent release of WikiLeaks founder Jullian Assange. For a Saturday following the week when the Goa government permitted the sale the sale of alcohol or “daru” even within 100 meters of educational institutions and religious places.
AND a few stray thoughts on Bombay-style goondagiri coming to Goa. It has been reported that Pooja Sharma, the wife of a Mumbai senior intelligence officer, bulldozed the house of a tenant in Assagao on Tuesday, June 25, 2024. This is the first time a bulldozer has been used for demolish an ancestral house of a tenant in Goa. It would appear that Pooja Sharma had bought the property knowing that there were tenants and mundkar on the property. She reportedly hired a Dona Paula-based don going by the name of Arshad Khawaja, a real estate businessman, to demolish the house in Assagao.
The Mumbai intelligence officer appears to have been confident that the police will not interfere. Indeed, the Anjuna Police Inspector Prashal Desai has revealed that Arshad Khawaja was present during the demolition. Khawaja, who claims to be a family friend of Pooja Sharma, arranged for the bulldozer. Rumours have surfaced that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has been a party to the cover-up.
The complainant is Prinsha Pradeep Agarwadekar, a tenant of the bhatkar who sold the property. The Dona Paula don is reported to have taken Prinsha, her husband Pradeep and son Prince, to an unknown destination when the demolition took place. So, besides the demolition of a part of the house, the Dona Paula don has been accused of kidnapping the couple and their son.
The driver of the bulldozer Pradeep Rana from Jharkhand was arrested only after Siolim MLA Delilah Lobo made a complaint. Both Delilah and Michael Lobo have demanded the arrest of the high-profile Pooja Sharma, wife of the senior intelligence office in Mumbai. The suspicion is that not only the local MLA but the CM was also involved in the conspiracy. A social media post shows the Agarwadekar family thanking the local panchayat, MLA Delilah Lobo and Pramod Sawant.
The police registered the complaint of the Agarwadekar couple against Pooja Sharma only after it became a political issue. Now the Director General of Police Jaspal Singh has rushed to claim that police will take action against Pooja Sharma. The strange part of it is that nobody is talking about who sold the property to Pooja Sharma?
In a damage control exercise Pramod Sawant claims that the Mumbai party should have approached the deputy collector for help with the demolition of the structure. The credibility of not only the police but also local MLA Delilah Lobo and the chief minister has been affected by the partial demolition of the Assagao house. The chief minister who is trying to minimize the damage has assured that the government will repair the part of the house which has been demolished. Clearly, there is more to it than meets the eye.

AND a few stray thoughts on the imminent release of WikiLeaks founder Jullian Assange. Julian is the Australian editor and publisher who established WikiLeaks to expose conspiracies by governments. Assange released over half a million documents relating to the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2010. It may be recalled that the United States invaded Afghanistan to evict the Russians who had taken over the country. It was the US which created and promoted the terror group Taliban to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. The US had to withdraw from Afghanistan as the Taliban turned against them.
The US in turn tried to arrest Assange who had taken refuge in the Ecuador embassy in London. The US tried to get him extradited to Sweden on charges of rape and assault. These charges were rejected by the Swedish courts. The US Justice Department obtained a sealed grand jury verdict against Assange on charges of obtaining and disclosing national US defense secrets.
In 2019 Assange was arrested by the UK police and sentenced to 50 weeks in jail. The US demanded his extradition on a charge of publishing classified documents. If convicted Assange was liable to spend 175 years in prison. In 2021 a British judge blocked Assange’s transfer to the US. Finally, Assange struck a deal with the United States. Under the agreement Assange would surrender to a court in the Western pacific Marina islands.
The US agreed to demand only a 62- month sentence, equal to the time Assange has already served in a high security jail in London. It is reported that the Australian PM and the American ambassador to the US Caroline Kennedy played a major role in arranging for the release of the boldest whistle-blower in the history of taking on governments. Now Jullian Assange will walk free after 12 years in jail.

AND a few stray thoughts on the decision of the Goa government to permit the sale of alcohol/daruu even within 100 meters of educational institutions and religious places. At present the sale of liquor within the 100 meter zone is totally banned. Now Pramod Sawant seems to want to make money from liquor companies and liquor retailers at the expense of the health of school children.
We can’t understand why the government has agreed to issue licenses even to bars and liquor shops within 100 meters of religious places. Surely the gods have not started drinking in Goa? The CM who is also finance minister claims it cannot afford to lose revenue. The announcement comes on the eve of the state budget to be presented in the monsoon session of the Goa assembly. The BJP government wants to make a lot of money as the license fee for liquor outlets within 100 meters will be double that of the normal license fee.
This is a first after Liberation when permission is being given for setting up alcohol outlets close to religious places and educational institutions. Now students who passed out 12 standard can drown their sorrows over the golmaal in the NEET exams. Pramod Sawant is following the example of Arvind Kejriwal who had been arrested by the ED in the alleged liquor excise scam in New Delhi. Kejriwal is accused on reducing the excise of liquor very sharply to favor liquor manufacturers and dealers. It is claimed that Rs50 crore worth of bribes were taken by Arvind Kejriwal and some of the money was spent in the last assembly elections in Goa which the Aam Aadmi party contested.

AND a few stray thoughts on victims of the hike in power charges claiming compensation for power cuts. It may be recalled that the Electricity department has increased the power tarrif by 3% per unit, recently. This is expected to raise the price of power by Rs100 to Rs500. There’s stiff opposition to the increase in power tariff.
Even the Union Minister of State for Power Shripad Naik has directed Chief Minister Dr Pramod Sawant to cancel the power hike. The power tariff is regulated by the Joint Electricity Regulatory Commission (JERC). The JERC has provision for an online facility where consumers can register complaints on power interruption in filed claims for compensation. The Electricity Department has been asked to publicize this among consumers through mass media, SMS, emails, etc.
The joke is that the Electricity Department does not have a website for complaints yet. The JERC has given Goa six months to set up the website.

AND a few stray thoughts on Afghanistan unexpectedly entering the semi-finals of the ongoing cricket World Cup. Afghanistan, which earlier shocked Australia, defeated Bangladesh to enter the semi-finals. Interestingly, Australia which won the last World Cup hosted by India in Ahmedabad last year. Prime Minister Narendra Modi was present at the stadium named after him – the Narendra Modi Stadium — in the capital of Gujarat.
Many believed that India lost the finals to Australia due to the presence of Narendra Modi amongst the spectators. What is interesting about the present World Cup is that many of the traditional cricket playing countries like Australia, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and New Zealand are out of the World Cup.
The United States which is a new comer to cricket has put in an extraordinary performance with part-time players having defeated Pakistan. The hero of the US team is Saurabh Netravalkar, a Goan origin software developer employed by Oracle.

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