‘Goyant Kollso Naka’: Chandor midnight protest conveners booked by Goa police
On midnight of November 1, over 5,000 protesters gathered in Chandor to protest the double-tracking of the railway route.
‘Blocking the road, rioting and unlawful assembly at the railway gate’ are the charges for which Goa police have lodged FIRs against the conveners of the recent midnight protest at Chandor, a village in South Goa, against the double-tracking of the South Western Railway route. Conveners of Goyant Kollso Naka and Goencho Ekvott, organisations that have been leading voices against the three proposed projects of railway double-tracking, widening of NH4A highway and laying of 400 kv transmission line in Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahaveer Sanctuary in Goa, have been booked.
On midnight of November 1, over 5,000 protesters gathered in Chandor to protest the double-tracking of the railway route. Protesters, under the banner of Goyant Kollso Naka (translates to: We don’t want coal in Goa), walked to the railway track in a candle march, along with the beats of drums and slogans. The protest began at around 10 pm, and the participants continued an all night candlelight vigil till around 5 am the next morning.
As per the local news reports, FIR has been registered at the Maina Curtorim police station. Activists Abhijit Prabhudesai, Freddy Travasso, Sandesh Telekar, Vikas Bhagat, Crason Antao, John Douglas and others have been booked under Section 147, 149 and Section 143 of IPC, reports local newspaper oHeraldo.
“If the government is thinking of arresting a common man for 'unlawful assembly' then I demand the govt representatives be arrested too, for bypassing laws to build projects within a legally protected forest area,” stated activist Lorraine Fernandes, who was also part of the protest.
In solidarity with those booked for the peaceful protests, #Arrestmetoo campaign has begun on Twitter, where several citizens are condemning the FIRs. Sharing the photographs and details of the protests, Twitterati are questioning why these peaceful protests are called ‘riots’.
Please see photos of the people of Goa "rioting". Here is the proof of the riots. Hope this helps @DrPramodPSawant. Especially, the dancing women. And Aunty sitting with a candle. And man with plastic skeleton.#ArrestMeToo #SaveMollem pic.twitter.com/sIP8CXRKmE— Malaika #SaveMollem (@CarbonSkeletons) November 5, 2020
The protesters have planned another protest on November 8th. "Doing it the Goan way: peaceful, singing, dancing and most importantly togetherness, humanity and harmony. Come 8th of November, we’ll just get stronger," said activist Johan Godinho.
For the past five-six months, environmentalists, students, tourism stakeholders in Goa have been raising voice against these projects, that would lead to severe forest clearances in the biodiversity-rich Mollem National Park and Bhagwan Mahaveer Wildlife Sanctuary. Two of these projects were cleared virtually during the Coronavirus lockdown. If the projects go ahead, environmentalists associated with the ‘Save Mollem Campaign’ have pointed out that hundreds of wildlife species, including Schedule I and II endangered species, will be threatened. Dudhsagar Waterfall, one of the tallest waterfall of Goa and one of the most popular destinations of Goa’s hinterland tourism, is also located between both these biodiversity hotspots.
Story updated at 5.45 pm with additional quotes