Congress demands withdrawal of police force from Melaulim

The Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat along with other leaders and workers of the party seen at the police headquarters in the city.

Panaji: The Congress party workers led by the Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat and Goa Pradesh Congress Committee president Girish Chodankar on Thursday marched from the city party office to police headquarters in Panaji demanding immediate withdrawal of police force from Shel-Melaulim village.

In a memorandum submitted to the Deputy Inspector General of Police Rajesh Kumar, the opposition party also demanded immediate strict action against all the police officials who were involved in ‘atrocities’ against the peacefully protesting women and villagers of Shel-Melaulim.

The Congress asked the police to release the villagers who have been arrested by Valpoi police and stop further arrests of any of the protesting villagers or activists who are part of the agitation against the IIT project.

“The villagers of Shel-Melaulim have the support of Goans. If the police try to use force, people from all across the state will gather at Shel-Melaulim in solidarity with the protesting villagers. This will create a serious law and order situation,” reads the memorandum addressed to the Director General of Police Mukesh Kumar Meena. However, in his absence, the DIG received the memorandum.  

Later, interacting with media persons, Digambar Kamat said that they advise the government to consider having a dialogue with the villagers in order to find a solution.

“The government has to withdraw police…you can’t use police force. Arrest of protestors and selectively targeting Congress leaders by police will further escalate the agitation,” the opposition leader stated.

GPCC president Girish Chodankar claimed that the BJP-led government has asked the DGP to file FIRs under Section 307 of the IPC against Congress leaders including vice-president of the party Sankalp Amonkar, party’s general secretary Amarnath Panjikar and prominent leaders of the Valpoi Congress block.

Chodankar alleged that the people belonging to Scheduled Tribes are being specifically targeted by the government at Shel-Melaulim. 

“Our Constitution has given the right to protest, and we Congress workers are out today to protect this right. If the situation goes out of hand then the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, Valpoi MLA Vishwajit Rane, and this government will be responsible,” Chodankar said.

He said that the Congress party will stand by the villagers of Shel-Melaulim and do everything to protect their rights.