Panjim, 10 Feb.:
District Magistrate, South, JB Singh, today asserted that no person either from Bhatkal or Hubli had entered Sanvordem-Curchorem on Friday last, but confirmed that members of the minority community from Panjim, Margao, and Sanguem and other parts of Goa were part of the 800-odd crowd that assembled near the local mosque that day to protest against the prayer house demolition.
The communal riots which broke out at Curchorem and Sanvordem last week following the demolition of an illegal structure by miscreants has now opened the eyes of the politicians, who in the past abetted illegal constructions in the state. Now people frequently discuss about the encroachments on the roadside, along the highways or open spaces in various parts of Goa.
The five-member BJP teams comprised of MLAs, Francis D’Souza, Laxman Parsekar, former Speaker Vishwas Sattarkar, Ramrao Dessai and Damu Naik. The team later proceeded to Sanvordem-Curchorem.
The Magistrate admitted that the adminstration was not fully prepared to deal the situation arising out of the counter protests in Sanvordem on day one. "There was no information that the counter protests and morcha will lead to a violent situation," he maintained.
On the allegation that armed people from Bhatkal were holed up in the Masjid, the Magistrate told the BJP team that the administration was willing to conduct a search of the persons assembled at the Masjid for swords, but the locals rejected the proposal. Singh offered not to comment when the BJP team asked whether he agreed to the views of the Chief Minister, Pratapsing Rane that the attack on the minority community was pre-planned.
The BJP team harped on one single point as to why the handful of houses belonging to the local Muslims were not guarded with additional security. In his reply, the Magistate was categorical in saying that it was not at all possible to deal with a mob at the police station and also deploy security to protect houses of the minority community.
The Magistrate and the team also had different opinion on the release of the arrested people for violating Section 144.
CURCHOREM: The "fact-finding’ team also went to Guddamol and visited the controversial prayer house, besides interacting with Hindus and Muslims there. At Curchorem, they met shopkeepers and discussed the situation with the President of the Curchorem Merchants Association Pandurang Dessai. They also met the affected Muslim families and were apprised of their mental and physical anguish during the past one week.
Later speaking to reporters, MLA Francis D’Souza said there was no truth in allegations by the Congress, that MLAs Ramrao Dessai and Vinay Tendulkar had committed offences by addressing agitators when Section 144 was in force. "In fact, the people were all the more agitated when Chief Minister Pratapsing Rane visited Curchorem and went away without interacting with the people," Mr D’Souza added.