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Newsletter. Issue 2009-22. October 24, 2009

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News Clips from Goa

Two killed in Goa blast, Hindu group blamed

Panaji: Two activists of a Hindu group were killed in Goa when explosives being transported in their scooter went off in a traffic jam, police said on Saturday. Elsewhere in the state, a favourite haunt of foreign tourists, another bomb was discovered before it could explode. Police sources said the bombs were meant for a Hindu gathering which the Hindu group, Sanatan Saunstha, bitterly opposes.

The explosion in the scooter took place at about 9.30 on Friday night near the Grace Church in Margao, about 35 km from Panaji, when the scooter was on a busy road.

Although the police called it a low intensity blast, the scooter caught fire following the explosion and was burnt. Both men riding the scooter, Malgondi Patil and Yogesh Naik, were badly injured and collapsed on the road. While Patil died in a hospital around midnight, Naik succumbed to his injuries at 9.30 a.m. today. Police said the pair was carrying five gelatin sticks. Authorities said the explosives were meant to go off elsewhere but exploded prematurely as the scooter got delayed on Margao's roads. Police said the scooter belonged to Nishad Bakhle, an alleged member of Sanathan Saunstha, a rightwing Hindu group which is headquartered in the temple town of Ramnathi.

Superintendent of Police Vishram Borkar said that a second blast was averted in Sancoale, near the port town of Vasco, when alert occupants of a truck threw out a bag when they heard a clock ticking inside.

"The zipped bag contained a timer device and a few sticks of gelatine. They were diffused by our bomb disposal squad late at night," Borkar said.

The truck was carrying nearly 40 people and was headed for a 'narakasura' competition where thousands were gathered to see several giant effigies being judged for prizes and then set on fire as part of a popular Diwali tradition in Goa.

The Sanatan Saunstha, formed a quarter century ago and which has been active in the past eight years, is violently opposed to the 'narakasura' festival. The right-wing group's motto is: "Evil should be destroyed."

Goa Home Minister Ravi Naik confirmed the Sanatan Saunstha's links to the Goa Medical College near here. Naik said police were searching the Saunstha's headquarters in the temple town of Ramnathi. A mobile telephone was found at the spot.

"There is every possibility of political interference. I have asked police to do their job as an independent authority," Naik said.

Superintendent of Police (North) Bosco George told reporters in Ponda that the police search of the Sanatan Saunstha's headquarters was still on and that the operation had yielded clues.

"We have found some suspicious articles, including some watches, which were similar to the timer devices found in Sancoale," he said, adding that nearly 100 people at the ashram were being questioned by police. (IANS)


Goa Govt moves to stop discrimination against Goan and Indian tourists
TNN 23 October 2009,

PANAJI: It may be a first of sorts in the country. The Goa cabinet passed an anti-racism clause in the state’s beach shack policy for the tourist season 2009-10 warning shacks that they risk losing their licences if found discriminating on the basis of nationality and race. The cabinet on Wednesday approved the shack policy—with the new clause—in a bid to clamp down on discrimination against Goan and Indian tourists, an open secret in Goa that nobody really wanted to acknowledge.

Tourism director Swapnil Naik, who added the clause to the policy, said, “The clause will apply to beach shacks on land owned by the tourism department. With regard to shacks on private property and restaurants, I have sought legal advice.”

Lyndon Monteiro, officer on special duty to tourism minister Mickky Pacheco, however, said that the law provides for such cases. “If anyone is racially discriminated against in a restaurant, he/she can approach the nearest police station. Such acts are against the Constitution. The police have to act,” Monteiro said.

That racism exists in Goa was highlighted by TOI recently. When your paper approached the tourism director seeking his comments on this discriminatory policy practised by some shacks, he had immediately called up his legal advisor and promised to incorporate this particular clause in this year’s shack policy.

However, shack owners are not amused. “Rivals owners will misuse this clause to settle scores,” said Shack Owners Welfare Society president Cruz Cardozo. Goa Traditional Shack Owners Association president Manuel Cardoz agrees. “This clause can be misused. The onus is on the tourist. If the tourist behaves himself in society, has manners and is not a cause of nuisance to other guests, there shouldn’t be a problem for him,” said Cardozo..


Goa Blast: Intelligence Agencies Probe Confirms Role Of Right-Wing Hindu Group
TNN 20 October 2009,

NEW DELHI: Even as the right-wing group Sanatan Sanstha on Monday denied its role in the blast in Margao, Goa, on Diwali eve, intelligence agencies tracking the leads of the ongoing probe confirmed the hand of the group -- indicating how Hindu extremist groups are persisting with marking their presence through nefarious activities to counter the terror design of Islamic fundamentalist groups.

Tracking the trend of the Hindu extremist groups' modus operandi, sources in the agencies also pointed out that though these groups had been desperately trying to organise some big blasts with the intention of creating a Hindu-Muslim divide, they have failed to do so due to the rudimentary ways of carrying out their operations with "not so perfectly assembled" bombs unlike their Islamic counterparts.

"Each time they had set out for an operation, their explosives have gone off up accidentally, indicating lack of expertise among the Hindu extremist groups", said an officer.

The official, however, ruled out any link between the Margao group and those who involved in Malegaon last year, saying the preliminary probe has not confirmed any linkages.

The blast in Goa was, in fact, the fourth accidental explosion in the past couple of years. In all the four incidents -- Margao, Thane, Nanded and Kanpur -- Hindu extremists had allegedly carried the bombs, which went up accidentally making them the victims.

In 2006, a Margao-type blast took place in Nanded while Kanpur witnessed the other blast in 2007 killing two members of the Bajrang Dal. Both of them were killed when a bomb they were manufacturing went off accidentally. The duo reportedly wanted to cause blasts in Kanpur and Firozabad on Janamashtmi to malign Muslims.

The blast in Thane was allegedly carried out by another Hindu extremist group -- Hindu Jan-Jagruti Samiti -- in 2008.


Cong calls for stern action
TNN 20 October 2009, 04:11am IST

NEW DELHI: Congress on Monday called for stern action against the perpetrators of the Goa blasts claiming that such terror attacks "threaten the entire identity and culture of a global and yet a unique tourist destination".

Asked about the role of Sanatan Sanstha, an outfit suspected by the police of being behind the incident, party spokesman Abhishek Singhvi said that keeping in view the serious implications of such violence, stringent action should be taken against those responsible for the blasts.

"In addition to the necessary condemnation of terrorism, one has to wake up to the various consequences of violence in a place like Goa," he said. He said that expert agencies would look into the matter and take effective steps.



Goa’s coastline a gift by nature, should be preserved, says HC
Goa’s coastline has been taking a beat, courtesy, man’s unsatiated lust for wealth. And sand dunes continue to face destruction and coastal ecology is under threat. Taking this into consideration, the Bombay High Court at Goa has said “The coastal line, available to this State (Goa) is a gift by nature. This gift has to be cherished, preserved, maintained and enjoyed”. The division bench comprising Justice S B Deshmukh and U D Salvi made the observation after hearing the parties in a writ petition filed by Aleixo Pereira of Utorda. [H]


Governor’s move to return panchayat bill hailed
The All Goa Panchayat Democratic Forum, non-governmental organizations and people of Goa have hailed the Governor S S Sidhu’s move to return the controversial Goa Panchayat Raj (Amendment) Bill back to the legislature with his recommendations. While the organizations opposed to the bill hailed the Governor’s returning of the bill as the right gift on the eve of Diwali for the people of the State, many cutting across party lines compared the amendment to demon king ‘narkasur’ which had been burnt down. [H]


Governor has felt pulse of people: Barreto
Reacting to the Governor, Mr. S S Sidhu’s return of the Goa Panchayati Raj (Amendment) Bill, 2009 to the Assembly, All Goa Panchayat Democratic Forum (AGPDF), general secretary, Mr. Edwin Barreto, said that he felt that the Governor “has felt the pulse of the people at the grass root,” and so reverted it back. However, the president of the organization, Mr. Joseph Sequeira terming this as a “Diwali gift to us,” was much more critical of the Panchayat Minister. [NT]


Swine flu claims second Goan
The dreaded H1N1 virus—more commonly known as Swine flu—claimed one more Goan yesterday, baffling the medical fraternity again in view of the case’s indigenous nature. The 25 year old woman, a resident of Tiswadi and native of Salcete, had no previous history whatsoever of travel to Swine flu endemic areas such as Pune. [GT]


GCZMA nod for 48 more shacks in Calangute, Candolim
With the Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority (GCZMA) deciding to allow 48 more shacks on the Candolim-Calangute beach stretch, the decks have been cleared for the government to approve the shacks policy for the year 2009-10 and make allotment of shacks. [NT]


Big cat’ kills calf, locals in Borim worried
A calf belonging to one Anand Devari was killed by a wild cat at Borim, Ponda leading to villagers speculating that it was killed by a tiger. However, North Goa Deputy Conservator of forests has said that it since nobody has seen the animal; it could be a Leopard behind the attack. “The department is keeping a watch,” he added. [GT]


Goa bags e-governance award for best jail management
Prisons in Goa may have been in ‘shackles’ for years but the recent setting up of Prisons Management System (PRISMS) has helped prison authorities to break this image, Inspector General of Prisons Mihir Vardhan claimed. At a press conference addressed by the Home Minister Ravi Naik, it was announced that Goa has won the National e-governance award for the best jail management. [GT]

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