We have four people’s activists who have always fought for their soil and are fervent defenders of the rule of law and the constitution, who face criminal charges for purportedly destroying the JCB at the site of double tracking in Velsao, and carrying dangerous weapons.
Even as the shocking charges are being investigated and one expects a fair probe, there are apprehensions that they and others have to spend months doing the run of courts and the police.
At a time like this it remains to be seen how the common people, or at least the locals of Vasco to Velsao to Arrosim to Majorda and the entire stretch of the double tracking project through Goa, support the four activists, Orville Dourado Rorigues, Olencio Simoes, Camilo D Souza and Francis Braganza.
Now, solidarity through sheer physical presence and not social media posts is needed to prove that the FIRs are not only on them but on every Goan who has chosen to stand up for her land, her resources, her environment, and her basic right to protest when someone is entering into her private space and property in the name of “development”. Locals know this is nothing but surrender to special big-time commercial interests to make Goa a corridor for transporting coal landing at its port where the Port Authority wields great power than local bodies or institutions.
While these FIRs seek to convey a larger message about how protests will be dealt with, there is a bigger challenge and worry that needs to be addressed.
Are we as people choosing the right leadership to safeguard Goa and Goans across parties?
Leadership is not only about being an MLA or an MP who can play a role in forming state and central governments. People chose leaders at panchayats, municipalities, and Zilla Parishads, each chosen to be a people-first leader, chosen to do well to the state and its people at his or her level.
Do we have leaders in Goa who have left a legacy? Are they inspirational leaders who will take a bullet for the common man and the protection & preservation of Goa? Are there elected leaders across parties who will tell the ruling dispensation, even if it is his own party, that it’s doing wrong to the people and to Goa? Do we have elected leaders who will go to court for the people?
In Goa, today’s battles are not being fought by elected leaders bur responsible media & higher judiciary
The Editor in Chief of Indian Express Raj Kamal Jha, in his address during the Ramnath Goenka Awards for journalistic excellence, looked at Chief Justice Chandrachur on stage and called him the “North Star” or the shining light when the press is pressurized from doing its work honestly. In his speech, CJI Chandrachur, quoting a Supreme Court judgment said “India’s freedoms will rest safely as long as journalists can speak truth to power without being chilled by a threat of reprisal”
In both cases, the media and judiciary have to step in because the executive is found wanting, But who chooses the executive? The people.
If our leaders are not fighting people’s battles then for change let us point at those who are electing them, the people of Goa
If people choose leaders based on what they can do for them personally then they will never choose the right people for Goa.
Now decisions on who to vote for are taken on the basis of who comes home for tea or gets your personal work done, who takes care of life’s basic needs, or who pays for important family expenses. Elections are no longer the sublime dance of democracy but the very destruction of it. It is actually the dance of money power, in short nothing but a business running into crores, even for grassroots elections.
Isn’t this a hard reality that just before the elections it's about managing money distribution rather than convincing people about objectives, goals, and policies? Isn’t booth management more about managing the booth’s budget than ensuring that everyone should work towards a better Goa whose environment, wildlife culture, heritage, and history is protected, a Goa where people elect leaders who are Goans first, whose morals cannot be bought, who does not betray the people’s mandate?
If a voter sells his vote in cash or kind, he cannot expect pro-people leadership
Once a voter is compromised, his vote is compromised, and when his vote is compromised, his land and his state, and the future of his children is compromised.
When people’s activists who give up everything to fight for the people selflessly, are treated like criminals, let the people who they are fighting for look into their conscience and ask if each one has been honest enough in his or her choice of leadership. Have you voted for Goa or for yourself? Ask this as you go to bed tonight.