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From Daijiworld's special correspondent

Pernem (Goa), Apr 18 (Tuesday, 6-15 pm IST): The agitators supporting international airport at Mopa paralyzed Pernem taluka bordering Goa and Maharashtra disrupting Goa's road and railway links to Maharashtra on Tuesday.

International airport proposed at Mopa in this taluka is in eye of a controversy following objections by majority of south Goa politicians led by member of parliament Churchill Alemao.

This morning, the BJP and Congress activists held a counter-agitation pressing for the international airport at Mopa. "If the state government does not agree to our demands, we will intensify the agitation and paralyzentire Goa," warned BJP legislator Manohar Asgaonkar, who along with his 500-odd supporters had blocked Colvale bridge, a vital link to Maharashtra.
The day-long bandh saw agitators led by Congress legislator Jitendra Deshprabhu disrupting the railway traffic on Konkan railway corporation limited's route since morning. The first one to be stopped was a goods train which was blocked by agitators at Pernem railway station. As the tracks were blocked by the agitators, two other passenger trains – Konkan Kanya and Diva-Mangalore express – were halted at Sawantwadi and Tivim railway stations respectively.

The railway traffic was cleared only at 12.00 in the noon when 300 agitators led by Deshprabhu courted arrest. "Diva express crossed Pernem railway station at 12.30 in the afternoon," confirmed KRCL's public relation manager Baban Ghatge.

"We had to block the train so that the signal should reach to Delhi that people want international airport at Mopa," reasoned Deshprabhu a few minutes before courting arrest.

With former union minister for Law Ramakant Khalap alongside, Deshprabhu said that the agitation would be intensified if Mopa airport project is dropped, falling a prey to pressure tactics of few politicians.

Perhaps, this is for the first time that arch political rivals – BJP and Congress – are combinedly fighting for a common cause despite the fact that Congress leaders in South Goa are tooth and nail opposing Mopa airport project.

Though the railway traffic was resumed by afternoon, the road linkages remained tripped off as agitators had blocked major bridges. Contrary to the assurances of deputy inspector general of police, Ujwal Mishra, that no road would be allowed to be blocked, the police remained mute spectators during the entire drama. 


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