Panaji, May 13 (IANS) The AAP in Goa on Friday demanded a judicial probe into a police lathicharge on protesting fishermen as Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar said police were only trying to rescue a senior woman official from protestors.
“We demand a judicial probe into the Thursday’s lathicharge on traditional fisherfolk who were merely demanding their rights. The state government is trying to smother the protest with brute force,” Aam Aadmi Party’s (AAP) Goa convenor Valmiki Naik told the media here.
AAP’s national secretary Pankaj Gupta claimed the police action and subsequent arrest of more than 20 protestors was an attempt at “stifling democracy”.
“The government wants people to fear protesting for their rights,” Gupta said.
Traditional fisherfolk in Goa have been demanding a ban on indiscriminate fishing done with the help of LED lights and bull-trawling in the waters off Goa.
On Wednesday and Thursday, several hundred fishermen in their boats and trawlers blocked the navigable zone in Panaji’s Mandovi river, paralysing marine traffic, including passage of barges and casino ferry boats.
They had also rallied at the Fisheries Department’s director’s office.
Late Thursday, police allegedly lathicharged the fisherfolk.
Parsekar denied the lathicharge and said police were only trying to ensure the safety of Fisheries Department director Shamila Monteiro, as protestors were trying to gherao (lay siege) her.
“According to my information, the lathicharge was not how it is being projected. They (protestors) tried to gherao the fisheries director, who is a lady. Therefore, the police tried to rescue her from the mob, which is why they used batons,” Parsekar said.