Sunday 14 April 2024

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Sardinha-BJP clash over Mayem

 

Colonial hangover has become a bone of contention in the ruling coalition that has led to major differences between chief minister Francisco Sardinha and his partner – the Bharatiya Janata Party.

In the struggle over demanding 'real liberation' for the whole village of Mayem, which is still considered the evacuee property even after end of the Portuguese rule four decades ago, the cabinet is vertically divided over who is the real owner.

"We don't agree with Sardinha's viewpoint at all. In fact our support to the villagers will continue without thinking of political consequences", declared Manohar Parrikar, the local BJP leader, at a massive public rally held in Mayem this week.

Sardinha however is fully backing Antonio Pereira, the disputed legal heir of the property, admeasuring over 3700 hectares with a population of around 30,000. He has been even released Rs 45 lakh from the custodian of evacuee property, while also providing him police protection after villagers demolished his compound wall.

The issue is as old as of 1816, when the colonial rulers confiscated the whole village from the Mayem Communidade – a self-governed village commune system which is still prevalent in Goa. It was then handed over to Diogo da Costa Ataide Teive, called Count de Mayem, with a decree to look after it for three generations.

Eventually he also took over the land owned by the temple of a local deity Shri Maya Kelbai. Though the third generation died in 1929, the land was never returned to the Portuguese government. Pereira has now come to stay there, claiming to be Teive's legal heir.

"He is a thief, not a legal heir of Teive", alleges Nagesh Karmali, president of the Freedom Fighters' Association. Accusing Sardinha as an agent of these pro-Portuguese elements, all his freedom fighter colleagues have joined the struggle for 'complete liberation', along with trade unions and several NGOs.

The immediate issue however is the BJP-moved legislation, passed unanimously by the Assembly during monsoon session, making the existing tenancy act regarding the land they cultivate and mundkar act regarding their residential houses applicable to the land coming under evacuee property.

Sardinha simply stalled the bill from sending to the governor for his assent for quite a long time, alleges Adv Amrut Kansar, legal advisor to the Mayem Nagrik Kriti Samiti. "The fact that Sardinha considers him the landlord speaks about his intentions", he adds.

As the largely attended public meeting resolved to fight against the injustice, the BJP immediately met the governor, requesting him to give his assent immediately. After receiving the bill almost after two months, the governor has now asked for the whole history of the issue.

"If he does not want to give his assent, we are capable of getting it passed again in the House", says Parrikar, adding that the governor's assent would be then a mere formality. "I will fight till the end to liberate the Mayem villagers", says education minister Prakash Fadte, the BJP legislator from Mayem.

"But the issue gets partially resolved after the tiller gets his land released from our former colonial masters. Our fight will continue till we get each and every piece of land from our village freed from their clutches", asserts Kashinath Mayekar, president of the Samiti.


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