Panaji, July 4: A fight between rival gangs in the Panaji suburb of Taleigao has taken a serious turn with chief minister Manohar Parrikar, local politicians and the judiciary being dragged in.
Police had paraded Nilesh and Kamlesh Mangeshkar through the streets, handcuffed and with only their underwear on, allegedly at the behest of town and country planning minister Atanasio ‘Babush’ Monserrate.
Parrikar had indirectly defended the minister and refused a judicial probe into the incident.
Panaji district and sessions judge A.D. Salkar said the incident, sparked by “political rivalry”, was “barbaric, inhuman and in utter violation of human rights and human dignity”.
“The police force is primarily responsible for maintaining law and order and dignity of law. The purpose of granting police custody is to enable police to investigate the crime in a fair manner and not to humiliate the person accused of having committed the crime only in order to please someone in power,” he said.
Parrikar, when confronted with the charges at a citizens’ meet organised by the Rotary Club recently, argued that the minister was not present when the incident took place. He insisted that the duo was involved in some kind of gangwar with the policemen involved.
Faced with demands for a judicial inquiry, the chief minister went on to speak about corruption in the judiciary itself. However, he later said his comments had been “misreported”.
Lawyer Aires Rodrigues, a critic of Parrikar and a former student leader, said: “Chief minister Manohar Parrikar’s recent outbursts regarding the judiciary comes as no surprise. The chief minister’s clarification later about what he really meant is yet another example of his sly justifications when in a tight spot.”
“If Mr Parrikar has, as he claims, a bag full of evidence of corruption by judges, he should pass on this information to the chief justice of Bombay High Court for necessary action. It is very wrong and inappropriate that a chief minister should be making such baseless allegations against the judiciary,” he said.
Taleigao, a fast-growing suburb of the once-quaint and scenic Panaji, has since a decade become the centre of a building boom with extortion rackets flourishing in the area.
Former political kingpin Somnath Zuwarkar of the Congress was defeated in the May 2002 elections after Monserrate, a former aide, contested against him.
Monserrate, who was earlier seen as being part of the gang rivalry in the area, was one of the three MLAs elected to the United Goans Democratic Party, which offered support to Parrikar and thus enabled the BJP to narrowly come to power in a shaky coalition. Parrikar, an IIT metallurgical engineer who has ruled Goa with an iron grip in a virtually one-man government, has been charged with being soft on Monserrate.