22 Dec 2020  |   05:39am IST

Police action on Save Mollem Youth evokes sharp criticism

Legal experts citing constitutional rights to hold non-violent protests; Say it wasn’t correct on the part of the police to detain youth
Police action on Save Mollem Youth evokes sharp criticism

Team Herald

PANJIM: The police crackdown on the Save Mollem Youth crusaders, on Liberation Day, has drawn the ire of a cross section of society, with the legal fraternity citing constitutional rights to hold non-violent protests.

Several activists were detained a little before President Ram Nath Kovind arrived in the State capital to participate in the Liberation Day function, while two lead protestors were arrested and released only around midnight.

The police action has evoked sharp reaction from various quarters with some taking to social media platforms asserting their right to hold a peaceful protest.

Senior counsel Rajiv Gomes, backing the protestors, said no law and order was anticipated prompting police to detain the locals. He also pointed out to a recent remark made by the Supreme Court on the right to hold peaceful protest, referring to the farmers’ protests at the borders of Delhi. 

“They (Save Mollem activists) have the right to protest. Even the SC has observed in the case of farmers’ protest that it is one’s fundamental right as long as it is not causing nuisance or illegality in the protest,” Gomes said adding, “It wasn’t correct on the part of Goa Police to take action against the Save Mollem campaigners as there was no disruption of normal lives of the people. How can the police detain/arrest them with vague anticipation? Did the protestors issue any slogans to interrupt something or provoke to commit any offence?”

Advocate Albertina Almeida, who was a witness to the ordeal of the protestors last Saturday, also maintained that no disruption was planned by the peaceful protestors. “They were not doing anything in any form, which could have resulted in disruption of any gathering. At the Panjim Church premises where Save Mollem crusaders were present, also had the presence of tourists. It was absolutely unfair for the police to detain only the protestors. From the security point of view, it was not even on the President’s route,” she said, supporting the campaign. 

On the protest day, incidentally coinciding with the President’s arrival, several protestors were even picked up from Merces circle. Almeida said that the driving licence of a youth was illegally seized by the police and a bus that had proceeded from Chicalim was stopped near Merces circle and diverted to other places.

An official Twitter account of Save Mollem Campaign states that young citizens at the site, where the youth were detained, were forced by the police to delete photos and videos from their phones. Many youth observed that policemen were in plain clothes. 

Besides local Goans being active on the issue on social media, actor Dia Mirza also took to Twitter questioning Chief Minister Pramod Sawant about right for peaceful protest. “Conservationist, Wildlife scientist, @nandinivelho was detained yesterday by the police during a peaceful demonstration against coal mining and the destruction of #MollemNationalPark in Goa. @goacm isn’t peaceful protest a democratic right?” she asked. 

Another twitter user Shreesiddhi Bhomkar took a dig at the government stating, “Make sure you wear t-shirts that they dislike. Oh! Bring roses as well, they are scared of the thorns. Note that first preference will be given to the woke youth who are trying to #SaveMollem #AmchemMollem.”

Also joining them was Mithila Prabhudesai pointing out to peaceful parade and government not hesitating to oppress dissent.


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