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LETTERS TO THE EDITOR

Section 144 And Mal-intent

SECTION 144 of the Criminal Procedure Code, which among other things prohibits an assembly of three or four persons, cannot be imposed without very good and credible reasons and for long periods. But the provision had been used by the state government to deny the right to peaceful protest. Section 144 had been imposed in North Goa district till April 10, and reportedly the police and Tourism Minister Manohar Azgaonkar were kept in the dark. What is intriguing is that Chief Minister Pramod Sawant insisted that the invocation of the provision was routine and would not affect marriages and public functions like Carnival and Shigmo. Since it was causing panic due to the stated terror threat intelligence, Sawant has withdrawn the notification imposing the CrPC section. Ports Minister Michael Lobo reportedly said that Section 144 had been invoked to prevent people from holding peaceful anti or for CAA meetings. However, the North Goa district collector had said the section was essentially imposed to facilitate compulsory tenant verification. Snapping the Internet and invocation of Section 144 for long periods have been favourite tools of the central government despite courts frowning upon it. This prevents lawful protests – the sine qua non of a democracy – and takes away our freedom.

JOHN ERIC GOMES, PORVORIM

Indian Democracy in Danger

WITH Prime Minister Narendra Modi ruling out a rethink on the contentious Citizenship (Amendment) Act and Article 370, and Union Home Minister Amit Shah refusing to budge even an inch on the CAA, the future of democracy in the country lies in jeopardy, to say the least.  To make matters worse, several state governments have also added fuel to the fire by passing resolutions in their respective assemblies against the implementation of the CAA, the National Population Register and the National Register of Citizens.  Even the two-month-old sit-in at Shaeen Bagh in the national capital is proving to be a damp squib after permission to meet Shah was refused by the Delhi police, and some protesters in the group taking a diametrically opposite and audacious stand of meeting Shah to teach him the Constitution instead of seeking a clarification on the new citizenship law. In such a conflicting scenario, it appears that the time has now come for all those opposing the CAA to do a climb-down and re-think and resolve the matter amicably.

A F NAZARETH, ALTO PORVORIM  

Motorists Suffer When Dignitary Visits

DESPITE our Supreme Court having clearly ruled time and again that public roads cannot be closed even for the movement of VVIP vehicles, the traffic mayhem witnessed in and around Panaji over the weekend on account of the visit by Portuguese President Marcelo Rebelo de Sousa is highly condemnable. Every visiting dignitary must be given a warm welcome but not at the cost of disrupting the traffic. The authorities were required to ensure that the free flow of vehicular traffic was not obstructed or blocked. It was sheer incompetency of the traffic regulating authorities that the commuting public were put to great inconvenience as the traffic police miserably failed in controlling the mess. Such disruption of normal life is absolutely impermissible and unpardonable. Even Sousa would have not liked it. It is high time that our traffic officials, who have expertise in only prosecuting the common man for minor traffic violations, are now professionally trained on proper traffic management. There is no reason why a well-thought out traffic plan cannot be implemented whenever a top dignitary visits the state or a major event takes place in the state. 

AIRES RODRIGUES, RIBANDAR

Bolt From Karnataka

NOT for nothing is Jamaica’s Usain Bolt known as one of the best sprinters the world has produced. Thirty-three-year-old Bolt holds the world record in 100 metre, 200 metre and 4/100 metre relay. India goes gaga over anyone who runs at breakneck speed. When talents appear from remote parts of India, the excitement is laced with euphoria.   Srinivasa Gowda, hailing from Moodbidri taluk in Dakshina Kannada district of Karnataka is the latest ‘star’ on the horizon. Racing with his buffaloes, in the traditional buffalo race of coastal Karnataka called ‘Kambala’, Gowda stunned the world by covering 142.5 metre in 13.62 seconds. More importantly, he is said to have completed 100 metre in 9.55 seconds – Usain Bolt’s world record stands at 9.58 seconds. After Congress MP Shashi Tharoor was all praise for the “hidden talent”, Union Sports Minister Kiren Rijiju tweeted full support for Gowda’s higher training. Though the Bolt-Gowda comparison was not inevitable, but it has become the trend.  The well-built Gowda is himself too modest to invite comparison with Bolt but locals are quick to point out to his ‘Kambala king’ status – a reputation painstakingly built over a period of seven years.  It is quite clear that Gowda’s bristling speed was supplemented by the initial pull and momentum supplied by the pair of buffaloes rigorously trained for the event. Whether or not Gowda would have alone been able to keep up the same pace on synthetic tracks with shoes is a matter of conjecture. Sans sophisticated electronic timer, the veracity of Gowda’s timing is open to public scrutiny.  That being said, if the man could run so fast in mud, unmindful of slime thrown by the buffaloes, would he not bring the house down without distractions? Maintaining a fine balance between the buffaloes and his own legs is no mean task. The coordination, skill and speed require support and training under watchful eyes. When a champion material emerges, responsibility of the government and the civil society increases that much more. 

GANAPATHI BHAT, AKOLA

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