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RTI activists lodge complaint demanding FIR against mining-mob

Goa RTI Forum has lodged a complaint at the Margao Police Station demanding that the mob incident on March 2nd wherein RTI activists were heckled and threatened by the mining-dependent protestors be investigated and an FIR registered in the case against offence of human rights violations.

In a letter submitted to the Goa Police, Shrikant Vinayak Bharve, secretary, Goa RTI Forum, stated, “As a sequel to our oral intimation, we hereby lodge a written complaint about incident and offences on Saturday March, 2, 2013 at CD BlueChip conference Hall in Pajifond, Margao where a meeting for invitees only was called by the Goa RTI Forum to discuss the various aspects of the Shah Commission on mining report. It was to be addressed by activists Ramesh Gawas and Bhushan Bhave.

There was vicious attack on the freedom of expression by some individuals who claimed to be pro-mining activists, in our said meeting.

The hall was having a capacity of only 35 people and accordingly they   were invited by RTI Forum through SMS for the purpose of obtaining knowledge about the various aspects of the Shah Commission Report.

Unfortunately, close to the time of the scheduled opening of the meeting at 4pm, while members of the RTI Forum were present in the above mentioned hall on the fifth floor of CD Bluechip, a group of uninvited  people forcibly and unauthorized gathered in the hall thus committing crime of criminal trespass. The said people who were not invitees were politely requested to leave, but they refused to cooperate and started threatening.

In about half an hour, hundreds of people gathered around the venue with maliafide intention of interfering and stopping the meeting. Eventually, the so called pro-mining unruly illegal mob climbed up the staircase and filled it up to the fifth floor. In this way the RTI forum members were forced to stay inside the hall which amounted to wrongful confinement by the so called pro-mining mob. Similarly because of them some of our invitees could not enter the building. Thus our fundamental right of freedom of movement and of freedom of expression by organising meeting was seriously interfered.

It was around this time that the police were called in and they managed to come to the hall and asked the members of the forum to stop the meeting since there could be an untoward incident. Since the police were not offering protection to hold the meeting, the RTI Forum then was required against its wishes to call off the meeting. This was result of serious lapses of duties on part of authorities. They ought to have allowed the meeting by controlling the illegal mob.

When Activists of the RTI Forum were then led down the staircase in the presence of police, It was at this time that some members of the RTI Forum were attacked and threatened and a serious danger was created to their life by people from mob. A plastic pet bottle was flung at one of the activists. The violent mob also threatened the RTI Forum activists with dire consequences.

Hundreds of people who had gathered in the illegal assembly on the street with an intention of causing violence and obstructing a meeting were mobilised by vested interest who did not want the truth about mining to come out. It is common knowledge that the mining mafia in Goa is trying to suppress knowledge about mining illegalities and for said purpose the mining lobby is doing its criminal best to ensure that people should not know about Shah Commission report.

There was a direct attack on freedom of expression. There was violation of fundamental right of a citizen guaranteed by the Constitution of India. From the photographs put up on various Goa Forums on the internet networking site, Facebook as also from reports on the local newspapers –both English and vernacular, the agitation seemed to be

The Police are very well aware that  bus-loads of pro-mining mob were brought for the purpose of disturbing the meeting.  There is a talk that said buses   were brought by  mining company and dropped near the venue and the buses were parked near the Old Bus Stand, Margao. The police must investigate how many such buses came, who owns them, who hired them and who paid them. There were other vehicles like tracks which brought the people. We expect the police to find out their details.

The mob had gathered in large numbers with an intention to cause injury/trouble/violence, assault on RTI Forum members. The mob was instigated by mining mafia which is in collision with the authorities and politicians who have so far not acted against the said mob and instigators. This amounted to human right violation as a terror was created and there was peril and danger to life and liberty which are the basis of human rights.”

So far there has been no official statement from the Chief Minister or the BJP government on this incident on the RTI activists. Except for the fact that the CM stated he would look into issue and would not allow anyone to take law into their hands.

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