After violence in Melaulim, Valpoi turns into fortress

Police personnel at Wagheri Indian Reserve Battalion (IRB) camp in Valpoi on Thursday.

Valpoi/Panaji: Uneasy calm prevailed in Valpoi on Thursday following the clash between Melaulim villagers and police personnel on Wednesday over opposition of the locals to the Indian Institute of Technology-Goa (IIT-Goa) campus coming up at Shel-Melaulim.

Security in the Sattari town has been stepped up by requisitioning thousands of police personnel from both, North and South Goa districts.

Crime Branch police, meanwhile, made the second arrest in the attempt to murder case that was registered in connection with the violence that occurred at Melaulim on Wednesday. Shailendra Velingkar was arrested on Thursday evening, police said. Earlier, the Valpoi police, probing the case, had arrested Vishwesh Parab. The case was later transferred to the Crime Branch from Valpoi police. 

According to sources, a series of meetings was held by top officials of the police department in Valpoi on Thursday to take stock of the situation. It is learnt that a high-level meet between top cops and the Sub-divisional Magistrate was also held wherein a plan of action was discussed on how to undertake the land demarcation work related to the IIT project at Melaulim. However, no official statement was provided to the media on the meeting held.

Due to a large number of police vehicles parked along the main road, the smooth movement of traffic in Valpoi town was hampered throughout the day. The presence of men in uniform all over the town was felt till late in the evening.

In Melaulim, the locals were seen agitating till late evening, firm on their opposition to the IIT project.

Meanwhile, a delegation of the United Tribal Associations’ Alliance (UTAA), led by Prakash Velip, met the protesting villagers in Melaulim and sought to understand their demand.

Later in the evening, leader of the Opposition Digamber Kamat, Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar and others visited the Valpoi police station and presented a memorandum to the police condemning the act of the government and cops against the villagers.

The Congress party has demanded withdrawal of the police force deployed in Valpoi. The party also said no cases should be filed against the protestors. Congress leaders said that if villagers are against the IIT project, then it is better for the government to shift it to some other place. They also visited the Melaulim village later.