//Peace returns to Goa

Peace returns to Goa

Friday, March 10, 2006  00:23 IST

PANAJI: Muslim families who had fled Curchorem and Sanvordem after communal violence erupted last week are slowly returning home after the police were ordered to give them protection.

Chief Minister Pratapsinh Rane has already gone on record saying the arson and other violence unleashed on these towns were "planned and the handiwork of some elements from within Goa". The CM had in fact blamed the BJP for inciting its supporters and activists against Muslims.

The communal violence damaged property worth Rs 2.25 crore including shops, houses, two petrol bunks and over 50 cars, buses and two-wheelers. The state cabinet also decided to compensate the riot victims. Four teams of mamlatdars who assessed the damage submitted their report on Thursday.

While compensation might financially alleviate the pain for some, the nightmare is something that will never go away. "This has been my home since birth. These shops were set up by my father. How can I migrate to another place?" Sheikh Mohammed Rafiq, who returned to Sanvordem after taking shelter at his brother’s home in Margao, told DNA. His shop was insured only against burglary, not against rioting.

He and other Muslims live here and are not from Bhatkal or any other part of neighbouring Karnataka as was claimed by the BJP. "Prominent individuals were involved in the pre-meditated attacks on the residences and property of Muslims," says Shaikh Hassan Mansoonm, vice-president of the Goa Pradesh Youth Congress Committee, who fled Goa after the attack.

There is a feeling that even the Congress let them down. Former Congress minister Sheikh Hassan says the healing touch will be provided if the Rane government gives protection and compensation to the Muslims.