Panaji: Memories of the 2011 tribal agitation which resulted in the death of two young activists came alive during AAP chief Arvind Kejriwal’s visit to the village of Cauvrem in south Goa.
“Two youth were burnt to death just because they were agitating for their rights. Till date not a single person has been punished for the murder. If tribals raise their voice, it is suppressed using police, and they are murdered,” Ravindra Velip, a tribal youth activist told Kejriwal on Sunday.
Two youths–Manguesh Gaonkar and Dilip Velip– who were part of a tribal group that blocked a National Highway pressing for their 12-point demands were charred to death when a building –Adarsh Co-operative Society–an initiative by tribals, was set on fire after the agitation turned violent in 2011.
State Agriculture Minister Ramesh Tawadkar was also part of the group, which faced resistance from locals, who had attacked tribals, Velip said.
“Police were mute spectators, criminals were never arrested,” he said.
Kejriwal who gave a patient hearing to the issues of tribal said, “If voted to power, AAP will punish all those who are involved in the incident.”
At Quepem Municipal Hall yesterday, Kejriwal was all ears for the community for almost two hours before heading to Cauvrem, a village which was amongst the first to witness tribal protests against mining activities claiming it to be illegal.
“There is no voice for tribals of Goa in policy making. Our lands have become playgrounds of the rich,” Nilesh Naik, another leader, who was attacked by unknown assailants in 2011 for raising the tribal issues, said.
Police are yet to identify the assailants who had hit Naik on his neck outside Verna Industrial Estate, where he had gone for work.
“Atrocities on tribals are observed at every step. The Commission for Scheduled Tribes has power but is controlled by politicians. Dozens of cases are pending before the Commission,” Velip said.
Goa has 89 per cent literacy rate but it is less than 40 per cent amongst tribals.
“Very few tribal students choose higher and technical education,” he added.