Former MLAs express concern over surge in religious tension in Goa

Panaji, May 30 (IANS): As incidents of reportedly hurting religious sentiments are increasing in the coastal state, former legislators have expressed concern and are holding ‘Hindutva forces’ responsible for disturbing peace and harmony.

Due to the surge in such cases, Director General of Police Jaspal Singh on Tuesday urged people to refrain from posting derogatory posts on social media. Even Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has said that irresponsible statements against any religion, which creates tensions, will not be tolerated and action will be taken according to the law.

A few months back, there was tension in Goa due to the desecration of the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj. In February, the Goa police had registered an offence against a mob for an allegedly unlawful assembly and rioting, where Social Welfare Minister Subhash Phal Dessai was attacked with stones while he was returning after inaugurating the statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj at Sao Joao De Areal village in South Goa.

Recently in two different incidents, devotees of goddesses from temples in the north and south agitated for action against those who had hurt their sentiments by posting derogatory remarks on social media.

Speaking about these issues, lawyer and former MLA Uday Bhembre said that this has started from ‘Hindutva forces’.

“Earlier other religions never complained about such incidents. This is not taking place only in Goa, but wherever there are governments of the BJP these Hindutva forces are creating problems,” octogenarian Bhembre said.

“If one tells the real history of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj or if you speak the truth, their sentiments get hurt. They create these problems because they are confident that there will be no action against them as they are in power. But sometimes under pressure from the public, the government is forced to take action,” Bhembre, who played a vital role during the Goa Opinion Poll, said.

He said that this has happened in Karnataka (earlier), Uttarakhand, UP and Haryana. “As a reaction or retaliation this ‘disease’ then spreads in other religions. It is natural to get hurt when someone desecrates the ‘Holy Cross’. Militant organisations of some ‘Hindutva forces’ have started this trend of hurting religious sentiments. They don’t listen to the thoughts of others, their sentiments are hurt when someone speaks the truth and tells the true history,” he said.

Bhembre said that this is basically done to divide people.

“Police are employees of the government, they act at its behest. Hence we can’t blame the police. If they don’t listen to the government then they will be transferred. They are not independent,” he added.

Former speaker of the Goa Legislative Assembly Tomazinho Cardozo said that there is need to bring strong legislation to stop such incidents.

“Intolerance has increased. Earlier people of all faiths lived together in our state. There was no religious tension at all. We used to visit each other's houses during Christmas, Ganesh Chaturthi or Eid. There was harmony in the society. But after the liberation of Goa, some politicians started asking votes on religious lines. All these years it was not much, but after the BJP came to power, intolerance among religious communities has increased,” Cardozo said.

Former MLA Lavoo Mamledar, who was deputy superintendent of police before joining politics, said that such acts should be stopped. “There should be prompt action by the police. Such incidents have started taking place only after the BJP came to power,” Mamledar stated.

Goa Alliance Party president Salim Mulla said that these incidents are surging only because of social media, where it becomes easy to create a fake account and disturb the peace. “Goa is known for peace, but now some forces are trying to divide us. Obviously, any person will get angry if derogatory comments are passed against their religion. But now the time has come that society should understand why such problems are created. It is evident that it is for political motives and to create a rift in our unity,” Mulla said.



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Title: Former MLAs express concern over surge in religious tension in Goa

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