Parents of children and youth who were detained and ferried in a bus by Goa Police on Liberation Day — on Tuesday voiced their anger as they demanded an ‘independent judicial inquiry’ in the case.
On December 19, when President Ram Nath Kovind visited the state and inaugurated a cultural event to mark the beginning of Goa’s 60th year of liberation from 451 years of colonial Portuguese rule — several youth and children outside the Church Square were rounded in a bus and ferried to a police station. Police say this was done to ensure there was no “law and order situation”.
While the parents have maintained there was no ‘protests’ but ‘celebration of liberation’, the police disagree.
“The children were at the church steps, inside the church property when they were asked to get in the bus and leave. We still do not know under what law were they taken to a police station. There is no accountability and they (police) are silent on why they took them to police station. A priest was also taken along with the children,” said Kenneth Silvera, a parent at a press meet on Tuesday.
Vishal Rawlley, a teacher says he was with the students when he was frisked along with the students. “There was another teacher, Tallulah too. We were explaining the children the idea of liberty. We were in a circle and were playing the Goan traditional instrument, the Ghumot. Imagine, the teachers being dragged in front of their students. What answer do we have for the parents who have put their trust and faith on us. There was also a mother whose child was separated and everything is on video for everyone to see police brutality.”
“There were no banners, no one with any criminal record. Also strict instructions were given to whoever was assembling to remain inside the church limits as we had taken permission from the priest. Further, we had planned events like dance and music performances,” said Simon Afonsa, whose 22-year-old daughter too was detained. Among the youth detained, was a food delivery boy who was passing by to deliver food, another 15-year-old-boy who was on his way back from a book store and two girls who were wearing black T-shirts.
The parents allege that the children were not given any explanation at the police ststion and were ferried from Panjim to Colvale in North Goa to Aggassaim in South before being deposited at Ponda police station, some 36 kilometres away.
Police haven’t released any response to the episode. “We had asked the organisers not to come to Panjim to protest well in advance in view of the heightened security requirements for the President’s visit and to carry out protest anywhere else in the Goa. But they came for demonstrations anyway,” said a senior police official.
The parents now have decided to stage a silent protest at the same place till their children get an apology from the police.
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