Saturday, January 2, 2010

Chaos and confusion in Colva over a Konkani CD

Chaos and confusion in Colva

The case of the CD that allegedly casts a priest and a politician in bad light is getting, as Alice says in Lewis Carroll’s classic tale, curiouser and curiouser with each passing day. Two days ago, South Goa Additional District Magistrate Prasanna Acharya issued an order preventing the media from reporting on the case. The order read, “I hereby direct all the TV channels broadcasting the issue…to discontinue the broadcasting of this story forthwith in South Goa district.”

The media reacted with understandable outrage to this attempt to prevent it from doing its discharging its duty. When questioned about this order, the ADM clarified that this order was with respect to the electronic media only and that it relates to a specific news item “in which the facts of agitation were wrongly quoted in the story”. He went on to state, “…the press is free to cover any story/news item with respect to Colva incidence (sic) except the story referred to in the order issued under section 108 of CrPC 1973 for the reasons mentioned in the order which is based on the police report.”

What exactly does this convoluted clarification mean? The media is free to report only a particular version of events? In a controversy as complex as this, with as many conflicting versions as there are participants, the authorities will decide what is the ‘true’ version of events, and prevent the media from presenting any other version or viewpoint?

This ham-handed attempt to muzzle the press is part of a pattern that has characterised the administration’s handling of the entire case from the very outset. The Margao Sub-Divisional Police Officer, DySP Umesh Gaonkar, has clarified, “…nowhere have I asked the Magistrate to direct TV channels to discontinue broadcast of the ongoing agitation.” Yet, taking cover under the tired excuse of maintaining law and order, the administration is trying to muzzle the press, and is now moving to ‘ban’ the controversial CD itself.

Certainly it is the duty of the administration and the police to maintain law and order, but they have abjectly failed to do so – not because of anything the press has done, but due to their own failure to act when needed. The time to maintain law and order was when the house of Colva panch and producer of the controversial CD Calvert Gonsalves was vandalised. The time to maintain law and order was when mobs beat up Tarun Bharat reporter Mahesh Konekar outside the house of Calvert Gonsalves. The time to maintain law and order was when violent groups blocked roads in Colva, inconveniencing locals and tourists alike. Instead, the administration is now pointing fingers at the media, and trying to prevent it from doing its job.

The case of the controversial CD highlights much that is wrong with the way the administration functions in Goa, particularly the dangers of political interference in the work of the police. The same problem was witnessed most recently in the case of the alleged rape of a Russian tourist in South Goa. Police officers, with loyalties to one or the other politician, have been neglecting their basic duties in their efforts to please their political masters. And the biggest casualty of this approach has been law and order, to the extent that Goa, at the height of the tourist season, has acquired the reputation of an unsafe tourist destination in the national and international media.

In fact, nobody has come out of the Colva episode with any credit. When it is common knowledge that the entire episode is the result of political rivalry between Tourism Minister Mickky Pacheco and his one-time mentor Calvert Gonsalves, why are ordinary people letting themselves be used as cannon fodder in this proxy battle? If the CD is objectionable and defamatory, as alleged, why are people resorting to extra-legal means to tackle the issue? And why are the religious authorities remaining silent? The very least that should have been done was to counsel restraint and to preach against the use of violence. But the silence on the issue has been deafening.


No comments:

Post a Comment



Blog Archive


About Me

My photo
A big e-welcome to you. Tumcam Maie-mogacho ieukar. Enjoy Life - This is not a rehearsal! Konkani uloi, boroi, vach ani samball - sodankal. Hich Goenchi osmitai ani amchem khalxelponn. Goenchi amchi Konkani bhas! Ekvottachem saddon Goenkaranchem. This is Gaspar Almeida from Parra, Bardez, Goa, based in Kuwait and am connected with the website created by Ulysses Menezes, and as Moderator of the famous first of its kind Gulf-Goans e-Newsletter (since 1994) and The Goan Forum and several Goan and Indian associations and forums and e-forums in Goa, India, Kuwait, The Middle East and worldwide.