How the police watched helplessly as Parulekar backed Nerul mob trespassed on Don Bosco land, abused priests
Nerul mob forcibly started “ reconstruction” of temple which Don Bosco claims was nonexistent; police watched helplessly as mob started illegal construction on Don Bosco land with the blessings of the Tourism Minister; Priests who rushed to the spot repeatedly abused by crowd
Team Herald NERUL: Incidents of violence, lawlessness laced with a fair dose of communalism have marked the ugly incidents in Nerul in the past week. Without an iota of doubt, the local MLA and Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar and his bother have fronted the so- called “ people’s agitation” against Don Bosco, in a manner in which the Salesians never expected.
The situation in Nerul flared up , just as the revered Don Bosco institution, had got all decks cleared for the construction of an educational campus at the Nerul plateau on land leased to them by the Comunidade with all necessary permissions in place.
Even the construction license which was inordinately delayed by the panchayat, was later cleared by the Deputy Director of Panchayats who directed the panchayat to clear it within ten days. This was the precise time when troubles began and, according to the Don Bosco institution, all of a sudden it was made out that a non- existent temple was demolished, allegedly by the Salesians.
While there are two sides to a story and Herald has heard both the sides, there are certain facts that are not debatable and if we analyse how these were played out, a clear pattern of intimidation and misuse of power emerges. Herald’s conversations with several players from both sides, over the past five days reveals the Nerul Panchayat played the blocking game since Jan 2015 a) January 6, 2015: The land was given on lease to Don Bosco by the comunidade. The TCP cleared plans b) Feb 2015: Nerul panchayat asked Don Bosco for a health & construction NOC. It did not raise any questions on the legality of Don Bosco’s possession of the land for the institute c) March 2015: Panchayat asked for a possession certificate from the comunidade, though these documents were submitted d) April 2015: Panchayat sent a letter to the TCP asking it to “ confirm” that Don Bosco were in possession of the said land. A mischievous move to delay construction license since TCP does not confirm possession or ownership
following: 1) While the Salesians emphatically state there is no evidence of any temple or religious structure that was used regularly, there was a massive show of stage- managed protest at a “ ghumti” being demolished.
However, even if the charge of stage managing protests is not acceptable to the villagers of Nerul who agitated, the following should have been done. The place should have been cordoned off and an inquiry ordered by the mamlatdar with the support of the police.
What happened was different: On Aug 19, people from the village along with the acting sarpanch Shashikala Govekar trespassed on the property ( survey number 91/ 1) and shouted and agitated saying a temple was destroyed. The alarming communal statements made will not be reproduced here to avoid a further flare up. This was done in the presence of hundreds of villagers including the brother of Dilip Parulekar.
2) According to eyewitnesses, who spoke in confidence, corroborated by the Salesians of Don Bosco, many people gathered on the land and shouted slogans saying they would take over the property forcefully.
According to a senior member of Don Bosco, “ They threatened that they would assault our people if we went ahead with our educational institution project.” 3) The acting sarpanch along with the mob forcefully conducted some rituals on the property and said they were building a temple with some masonary stones, cement and sand with the mamlatdar and the police watching as mute spectators.
4) On August 20, Don Bosco hired security personnel as a security measure after this incident. The crowd returned again and assaulted the security personnel with one of them badly injured and his clothes torn.
5) Meanwhile the Deputy Collector had passed a status quo order that no construction could take place on the property. Defying this the villagers continued with the illegal construction on the property leased to Don Bosco.
6) On the same day the crowd thronged the Porvorim police station along with the MLA and tourism minister who demanded that one Savio be arrested.
There was no one called Savio either from Don Bosco or from the locals who were present on the spot, a clear indication that even the minister has not stepped back and taken a dispassionate view on this but acted as stakeholder for the locals who want to prevent the land going to Don Bosco at any cost.
The uprising and the incidents of violence has forced the administration to maintain a status quo till August 31, when it was earlier expected that the appeal against the Deputy Director Panchayat’s order directing the Nerul panchayat to issue a construction license would be heard on Aug 24.
This blatant misuse of force and power against an institution of learning and adding a communal colour will go down as yet another excess of this BJP government.