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Tousif’s tiatr unfolds peacefully under police protection

MARGAO: Public pressure forced a reluctant Tousif de Navelim, director of the controversial tiatr ‘Akantvadi Goeant Naka,’ to change his mind and stage his drama on Saturday at the Gomant Vidya Niketan hall in Margao under police protection, but not before another drama of sorts unfolded outside and in the venue hall.
Even though Tousif had earlier decided not to release the tiatr following the repeated threatening calls he was receiving, he later changed his mind seeing the public demand to see the tiatr.
Tiatr lovers marched along with Tousif to the police station, which is located in the vicinity of the venue hall, to request for police protection after the director told the audience that he had been receiving threatening calls warning him that he, along with his family members, would be killed after the show, if the drama was staged.
“We demand police protection to Tousif after the show,” the crowd shouted at the police station chanting slogans against the right-wing Hindu outfit Sri Ram Sene, which was against the release of the tiatr. The incident occurred at around 3.05 pm when the tiatr lovers reached the venue to witness the tiatr.
Police inspector Sudesh Naik assured Tousif of police protection. Later, police gathered outside the venue hall and cordoned the area. Around 70 policemen were deputed at the hall to maintain law and order. “We are giving protection to the tiatr director to stage his tiatr,” confirmed Deputy Superintendent of Police Mohan Naik. Immediately, a bomb squad was summoned. Five members of the squad along with DySP Naik checked each and every corner of the hall. “This is for the second time we are checking the haĺl. We checked it earlier in the afternoon as the tiatr was to be staged at 3.30 pm,” said one of the members of the bomb detection and disposal squad, who handled the sniffer dog and minutely checked the two-wheelers parked in the periphery of the hall.
Tousif later pacified the crowd and announced that he would release the tiatr at 5 pm. “Since I had earlier decided not to stage the tiatr following the repeated threats, my drama artistes had gone home. I had to call them back and that is how the tiatr has been delayed,” he explained.
Interestingly, the crowd supported the director. “We are ready to see the tiatr even in the late evening. We should send a message across that we, the people of Salcete are not scared of the threats given by outsiders. Who are these people who are dictating terms to us?” shouted a tiatr lover Joseph Coutinho from Colva. Another female tiatr lover Merciana Fernandes criticised the government alleging that it is supporting Sri Ram Sene.
Interestingly, the Goa members of Sri Ram Sene, who had vowed to protest the release of the tiatr, were not seen around. The tiatr was finally staged peacefully under tight police security. Tousif thanked the police for providing protection to him and his family.
South Goa Superintendent of Police Shekhar Prabhudessai said that there was no
untoward incident reported and that the tiatr was staged peacefully. He said that elaborate police arrangements were made near the venue of the tiatr. He said that plain-clothed policemen were also posted inside and outside the venue hall and that a police bandobast was made. Stating that the machinery was geared up to tackle any law and order situation arising out of the controversy over the tiatr, police said that they did not receive any court order staying the release of the tiatr. Policemen from Margao subdivision were posted on duty.
Meanwhile, South Goa district collector Venancio Furtado had informed the police to be on the alert on Saturday and supervise the emerging developments. The mamlatdar was also present at the venue. The chief guest at the tiatr MLA Vijay Sardesai and MLA Alex Reginaldo Lourenco pledged support to Tousif.

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