Panaji, Oct 20 (IANS) Terming the shutdown supported by his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) in Goa Monday as successful, Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar said this was a stern message to the state government from people.
Speaking at a press conference at the party headquarters, Parrikar said people could not expect security in a state where the chief minister himself hobnobbed with criminals.
'Today's bandh is a spontaneous manifestation of anti-government feelings of people of Goa. This government is trying to cheat people.'
He said this was the first time in the history of Goa that a shutdown was so successful. 'It was completely voluntary. We had made the announcement only through the media,' Parrikar said.
The Mandir Suraksha Samiti (Temple Protection Committee), a Hindu group, had given the call for the shutdown to protest increasing incidents of desecration of idols of Hindu deities in rural Goa.
'Most of the temple desecrations have occurred in areas around the constituency of Margao, from which Chief Minister Digambar Kamat is elected,' Parrikar said, adding that the temple vandalism was being carried out by the Indian Mujahideen - the shadowy terror group that has claimed responsibility for a series of terrorist attacks in several cities in recent months.
He also claimed that Moti Dongor, a Kamat stronghold in Margao, was a haven from criminals.
'I am not saying everyone living in Moti Dongor is a criminal, but the area has several safe houses for criminals,' the leader of opposition alleged.
He also referred to a recent incident where police had confiscated several swords from an abandoned truck immediately after communal violence in the chief minister's constituency.
'The persons who were arrested hobnob with the chief minister. It's been 110 days now. The case is now virtually dead,' Parrikar said.
He said the state police were trying to terrorise the BJP cadre into not going ahead with Monday's shutdown. 'The Panaji police inspector issued notices to senior BJP leaders under Section 149 (of the Indian Penal Code) asking them from refraining in any cognizable offence,' he complained.
The shutdown witnessed stray incidents of violence. Three buses were stoned in Mapusa, in north Goa, police said. Eight people were arrested after the incident.
Government offices and schools had thin attendance.
Desecration of idols has emerged over the years as a contentious issue in Goa. While earlier, it was Catholic churches which were targeted, over the last few months Hindu shrines and temples have been repeatedly vandalised by unknown miscreants.
The government has already announced a reward of Rs.100,000 for any credible information leading to the arrest of the desecrators.
'There is a definite pattern to the desecration attempts. Someone is trying to ruin the communal harmony in Goa,' Chief Minister Kamat told the media Saturday. The number of desecrations in the last one year total about 500.
Kamat's urging the people that full protection would be provided to those who wanted to defy the ban, appears to have fallen on deaf ears even in his own constituency of Margao, where the shutdown was near total.
The church has also condemned the repeated desecration of Hindu temples calling the attacks 'cowardly' and aimed at damaging Goa's social fabric.
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