‘Protests against flag-hoisting will be dealt with iron fist’

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Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Saturday condemned an island village’s refusal to allow the Indian Navy to organise a flag-hoisting ceremony on independence day, saying such “anti-India” activities will be dealt with an iron fist.

Sawant also requested the Indian Navy to go ahead with its original plan for flag hoisting at the St. Jacinto island, which is a part of the Defence Ministry’s ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ initiative.

“It is unfortunate and shameful that some individuals at St Jacinto Island have objected to the hoisting of the national flag by the Indian Navy on the occasion of India’s independence day. I condemn this and want to state on record that my Government will not tolerate such acts,” Sawant tweeted on Saturday.

“I have requested the Indian Navy to go ahead with their original plan and have assured full cooperation from Goa Police. These attempts of anti-India activities shall be dealt with an iron fist. It will always be ‘Nation First’,” Sawant also said.

On Friday, following public pressure, the Indian Navy had to back down from its plan to conduct a flag-hoisting ceremony on the St. Jacinto island in South Goa, amid accusations from local villagers and politicians, who alleged a government plot for a ‘takeover’ of the island.

“However, the plan at Jacinto Island had to be cancelled as the same was objected to by the residents. This initiative was taken nationwide to instill a sense of patriotism and celebrate the run up to the 75th year of independence,” the Indian Navy had said in a statement.

Earlier on Friday, villagers of St. Jacinto island, led by state Nationalist Congress Party president Jose Phillip D’Souza, gathered in the church square on the island to protest against the flag hoisting ceremony planned by the naval authorities.

“Navy officers came here and they said that they will hoist the flag on August 15. I want to say that whether they are from the Navy, government or any private company, we do not give this right to anyone (to hoist a national flag). The villagers are united against this. If the Navy, state and central government try to capture our island, then local villagers will never allow this,” D’Souza said.

Residents of the island located in the Zuari river bay also said that no formal permission had been sought by the naval authorities from the local authorities to conduct the flag-hoisting ceremony.

–IANS

maya/pgh