Tense moments outside GMC; fruit vendors oppose kiosks, 18 arrested



Eighteen fruit vendors, including activists Ramrao Wagh and Rama Kankonkar, were detained by the Goa police for opposing attempts to rehabilitate five Deendayal kiosk owners outside the GMC complex on Monday morning.

Government authorities led by Deputy Collector Gurudas Dessai and Tiswadi Mamlatdar Rahul Dessai had descended at the site outside the GMC complex to rehabilitate the five Deendayal kiosk owners upon directions of the High Court. They were accompanied by a large police force.

As attempts were made to place the kiosks at the same location where the fruit vendors were relocated, the fruit vendors slept in front of the vehicle carrying the kiosks and issued a warning that they would not allow the government authorities to once again displace them.

When the mamlatdar cited a High Court order, the fruit vendors shot back and asked whether the HC has directed rehabilitation at the same place where the fruit vendors are relocated.

Unable to answer the query of fruit vendors, police were given orders to arrest the fruit vendors for obstructing the government authorities.

Later, 16 fruit vendors, including a minor, and activists Ramrao Wagh and Rama Kankonkar were detained and taken to the Panaji police station.

Wagh and Kankonkar had come out in support of the fruit vendors, and had questioned the government authorities for displacing them yet again, when they had rightfully been relocated at the instance of the local MLAs.

It may be recalled that the government had demolished around 23 kiosks on July 1, which included five Deendayal kiosks, and had also displaced around 15 fruit vendors who were doing business outside the GMC complex.

Later, St Cruz MLA Tony Fernandes and St Andre MLA Francisco Silveira had forcibly relocated the 15 fruit vendors at a nearby vacant site outside the GMC complex.

MLA Fernandes had then proposed a rehabilitation plan for all the 38 affected persons, and the plan was awaiting final approval from the government.

However, the five Deendayal kiosk owners had challenged the demolition of their kiosks in the High Court despite them having all the necessary approvals, including NOC from the GMC.

The High Court had then directed the government to ensure rehabilitation of the Deendayal kiosk owners and had given a time of one month for compliance.

As the one month deadline had already passed and fearing that the Deendayal kiosk owners could file a contempt plea, government authorities had then asked some fruit vendors to shift their business by Monday, so that the five kiosk owners could be rehabilitated.

However, adamant that they would not shift from the relocated place, the fruit vendors were on a night vigil for two consecutive days to defend their business.

Activists Ramrao Wagh and Rama Kankonkar had lent their support to the fruit vendors with Kankonkar, even challenging to government to try and displace the fruit vendors.

On Monday, as they refused to allow the government authorities to rehabilitate the Deendayal kiosk owners, the fruit vendors along with Wagh and Kankonkar were detained. They were later released in the afternoon.

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