It was a minor victory of sorts for Shel-Melauli locals agitating against the IIT project, after police teams were withdrawn from all entry points to the village.
Police presence had intensified last week to provide security to the government surveyors conducting demarcation work for the IIT project and at all entry points to Melauli, to prevent people from elsewhere to join in the ongoing anti-IIT agitation by the Melauli locals.
However, the police action of resorting to lathi-charge and tear gas at the agitating Melauli locals last week caused outrage across the State, prompting legislators, political parties, organisations and people from all walks of life to denounce the police action.
As a result, people from at least 12 villages across Sattari marched to Melauli to join in the agitation, leaving police mute spectators to the growing agitation and compelling authorities to cancel survey work at the project site.
The anti-IIT agitation has taken on a larger movement with people from Melauli and other villages in Sattari to demand land ownership rights.
As part of their daily schedule, locals gathered at about 9 am to continue their agitation and were pleasantly surprised to find no police presence near the Jalmi temple at Shel-Melauli and at all entry points to the village.
Locals said while Health Minister Vishwajit Rane many have appealed to Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to scrap the IIT project at Melauli, their agitation would only end when the State issues a notification to move the project out of Melauli.
Meanwhile, the anti-IIT agitation received further support when dozens of yellow-black and tourist taxi operators visited Melauli on Wednesday at about 11.30 am and pledged their support to the agitating locals.
Leader of the yellow-black taxi operators Sunil Naik criticised the State government for forcing the IIT project on the locals, who had been cultivating the land for generations.
“It is unacceptable for the government to claim ownership of the land. All Goans have the social responsibility to oppose this project as it will destroy the livelihood of the locals,” said Naik, while appealing to locals to intimate them if the government were to forcibly resume work on the project.
The protest by locals ended early on Wednesday after being informed that the government team would not conduct any survey work.
PANAJI: Around 16 people including Sankalp Amonkar of Goa Congress, Revolutionary Goan leader Manoj Parab and Rohan Kalangutkar have been granted anticipatory bail by the District and Sessions Court, Panaji. They have been asked not to enter Melaulim village for 2 months from today. They have also been asked to report to Crime Branch for 5 days, from Jan 18 to Jan 22 between 10 am to 12 noon.