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Posted on Mar 05, 08:30PM | IANS
Panaji, March 5 : Civil society activists Tuesday demanded a judicial probe into an attack on their meeting - called to discuss a report on illegal mining - by hundreds of people who were demanding resumption of Goa's banned mining operations.
The attack Sunday by the 400-odd-strong unruly mob came a few days after Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar hinted during a media conference that he was "worried" about the safety of green activists who moved the Supreme Court seeking action in Goa's Rs.35,000 crore mining scandal.
"We condemn the intelligence failure regarding the mob gathering and demand that the government initiate a judicial inquiry into who financed the buses carrying the unruly people," said Shrikant Barve, secretary of the Goa Right to Information Forum.
The meeting was called to discuss the Justice M.B. Shah Commission probe which exposed Goa's massive illegal mining scam.
The inability of the police to rein in the attackers attracted sharp reactions on the social networking forums.
"We have a(n) IIT'an Chief Minister who is also our Home Minister but not a word of condemnation on the assault of peaceful activists. What do we think of this?" asked Sayed Altaf posted on Ami Niz Goenkar, a popular Facebook group which discusses local issues.
Altaf described the attack as "state sponsored" hooliganism, even as the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)-led coalition government is being increasingly criticised for its new found proximity to the mining lobby by both the opposition and the civil society.
Speaking to reporters last week, Parrikar had expressed his "worry" about the safety of Claude Alvares and others, who filed a public interest litigation against illegal mining in the Supreme Court.
According to activist lawyer Aires Rodrigues, there has been a paradigm shift in the Goa BJP ever since it stormed to power by virtually riding an anti-incumbency wave against the Congress, whose leaders were accused of being part of the mining scam.
"As chairman of the public accounts committee, Parrikar had then claimed that he had exposed the illegal mining scam. Now he is cozying up to the same mining lords many of whom were named by him for illegal mining," Rodrigues alleged.
The Supreme Court had banned mining in Goa four months ago following a petition filed by Goa Foundation and noted lawyer Prashant Bhushan.