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Goa NCP President instigated Sao Jacinto Island residents not to allow Indian Navy to hoist tricolour, Congress objects to Independence Day event

It has been revealed that the controversy began after a local NCP leader instigated the residents of the island not to allow the Indian Navy to enter the island by claiming that it was trying to "capture the island" and drive them out of Sao Jacinto.

Nationalist Congress President in Goa, Jose Phillip D’Souza instigated the residents of the Christian-dominated Sao Jacinto Island residents to not allow the Indian Navy to hoist the tricolour on the Goan island on the occasion of Independence Day. As the politician made a bizarre claim that the Indian Navy was trying to take over the island from the locals, the plan to hoist the tricolour was dropped by the navy to avoid any controversy.

According to the reports, it has been revealed that the Indian Navy had to cancel the Independence Day event at the Sao Jacinto Island after the local NCP leader brainwashed the residents not to allow them to enter the island by claiming that the Navy was trying to “capture the island” and drive them out of Sao Jacinto.

On Friday, the Indian Navy had to abandon its plan to hoist the tricolour on Sao Jacinto island in Goa after the residents objected to the Indian Independence celebrations organised by the forces.

The Indian Navy cancelled the unfurling of the national flag on the Sao Jacinto island, located South of Panaji, after the residents, mainly comprising of Christians, claimed they did not want any authorities from the Central government or the state government to carry out any activities on the island.

Objecting to the entry of the Indian Navy or any government officials, the residents had claimed that they are not opposed to unfurling the tricolour, but they would hoist the flag themselves.

Sao Jacinto Island, which lies south of Panaji, has predominantly Christian residents and houses two churches dedicated to St. Hyacinth of Poland (São Jacinto) and St. Dominic (São Domingo). The residents of the island have put up entry restrictions, and tourists are not allowed to visit.

NCP leader instigated local population against Indian Navy’s entry to Islands

As per the reports, NCP President Jose Philip D’Souza visited the island and made bizarre claims saying that the Indian Navy was planning to capture the island.

In the run-up to the “Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav”, a team from the Goa Naval Area had visited Sao Jacinto island to organise events to mark 75 years of independence. In a statement issued by the Indian Navy, it said this initiative was taken nationwide to instil a sense of patriotism and celebrate the run-up to the 75th year of independence. As a result, the Union defence ministry had asked the forces to unfurl the flag at various places, including islands, the Navy said.

A few days after the naval officials visited the island, NCP leader Jose D’Souza visited the island and instigated the local Christian population not to allow the Indian Navy to organise any events on Independence Day. The NCP leader also questioned the need for them to organise a flag-hoisting ceremony.

The Indian Navy has restricted locals from visiting certain islands having strategic importance around Goa, and D’Souza seems to have used this to feed into the fears of the locals.

“This is a plan to try and test our reaction before they capture this island,” said NCP leader D’Souza after mobilising some of the locals.

Communalising the national event, the NCP leader also claimed, “Take for example our religious traditions on Bat island, which the Navy has stopped us, fishermen, from visiting and continuing our traditions. We will not allow the Centre or the Navy to capture this island,” D’Souza said.

D’Souza gathered the residents of the island outside the church square, mostly Christians, to stage a protest against the flag hoisting ceremony planned by the naval authorities. The residents of Sao Jacinto island have claimed that the Indian Navy has sought no formal permission from the local authorities to conduct the flag-hoisting ceremony.

“Navy officers came here, and they said that they would 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.

Congress objects to Independence Day events at Sao Jacinto Islands

Not just NCP, even the Congress party is opposed to the Indian Navy hoisting the Indian flag on the Goan island on the occasion of Independence Day.

Responding to the controversy, on Friday, Chief Minister of Goa Pramod Sawant had announced that such shenanigans would not be allowed. In a series of two tweets, Sawant announced that he has given the Indian Navy the go-ahead to continue with their original plan of hoisting the Indian flag on the Island.

“It is unfortunate and shameful that some individuals at St Jacinto Island have objected to 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”, said the Chief Minister.

CM Sawant further said, “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”.

After Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant condemned the incident, saying that it was unfortunate and shameful that some individuals at Sao Jacinto Island were objected to the hoisting of the national flag, the Congress party took objection to his statements and went on to claim that the Indian Navy has already captured the islands.

Congress leader Shamila Siddiqui made bizarre claims questioning the presence of the Indian Navy on the islands and asked whether they had acquired it. She asked why could not the collector unfurl the flag instead of the Indian Navy hoisting the tricolour on the islands. She attacked the Goa Chief Minister accusing him of creating a confrontation that will have huge repercussions on Goans.

Residents claim Navy will take over the island, hands it over to private parties

Darrell Dsouza, who grew up on the island, said that the island consisting of about 200 families who have been hoisting the national flag every year. However, they are apprehensive about the Navy’s presence on the island in the light of their opposition to the Coastal Zone Management Plan in Goa and the Major Ports Authorities Bill, 2020, passed by the Parliament.

“We are not at all opposed to the hoisting of the flag. In fact, we told the officers of the Navy who came to the island to join us for flag hoisting on August 15,” said Dsouza.

He claimed that islanders, traditional fishermen, are anxious about the political intentions, which according to them, are against the interest of the island. Dsouza said that the islanders fear that the island will be taken over by government authorities and handed over to private parties for development once brought under port limits.

Captain Viriato Fernandes of Goencho Avaaz, an NGO turned political party, also defended the islanders saying that they have strong reasons to oppose the Navy’s presence in the islands. He claims that there is a ‘distrust’ among the residents of the island after the passing of the draft Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP) and the Major Port Authority Bill, 2020, in which the island has been included in the jurisdiction of the Mormugao Port Trust (MPT).

“Recently, there were protests against the CZMP. They depicted the port limit, and the jurisdiction of Sao Jacinto island has come under the port. We have been opposing these port limits. The island has religious structures dating back to 1731, and we said it could not come under the port limit. Since then, people have become very vigilant, and with this heightened vigilance, the Navy’s presence made them more suspicious. The Bill and CZMP have caused distrust, and the people are suspicious about anyone coming to their island. That is the root cause. Otherwise, there would have them to panic like this,” Fernandes added.

Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav

The Government of India is planning to celebrate “Amrut Mahotsav” – the 75th anniversary of India’s independence as a “people’s movement”. The Modi government has already started preparations for the 75th-anniversary celebrations and intends to organise several events to commemorate the historic event. The events will be managed by a national implementation committee which will be headed by Union Home Minister Amit Shah.

The Navy will also be hoisting the national flag on 75 islands in the run-up to August 15. The Navy hoisted tricolour on various islands on Friday, including Campbell bay in the Andaman and Nicobar Islands, Kavaratti in Lakshadweep and Minicoy islands, and the Anjadiv island off Karwar. Union defence minister Rajnath Singh virtually attended the flag-hoisting.

 

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