On NHRC recommendations, 737 protesters against illegal mining, victimized by police given more than Rs.36 lakh as relief by a reluctant Goa Government

Press Release
In a landmark case, the National Human Rights Commission, not only recommended, but also ensured that the Government of Goa paid Rs.5 thousand each to 737 villagers, whose human rights were violated in police action when they were protesting to stop illegal mining activities in and around village Carvem. The State government has submitted proof of payment of a sum of Rs.36 lakh 85 thousand paid to the victims.

The State government has informed that two members of a family refused to accept the financial relief, while three persons had expired. The Commission has directed the Additional Secretary, Department of Home (General), Government of Goa to make payment, within four weeks, to the first class heirs of the three persons who had expired.

In their complaint to the Commission, the villagers had alleged that they had been suffering from air and noise pollution as the mining truck owners and companies were plying their vehicles beyond the Government stipulated time. The local police, instead of sympathising with them, had unleashed a rain of terror on innocent villagers and lathi-charged them.

In response to the Commission’s notice, the State government had admitted that some truck owners had violated the stipulated time schedule to operate trucks in the mining area and action was taken against them. The villagers were also apprehended under Section 151 Cr.P.C. for blocking the roads and movement of mining transport.

However, the Commission said that the State Government did not make it clear whether the mining activities were going on in the area legally or illegally. It took note of the State Government’s submission that separate cases and a Commission of Enquiry under Justice M.B. Shah was looking into the issue of illegal mining, but also observed that human rights of the villagers protesting against illegal mining were violated. Therefore, it issued a notice to the Chief Secretary, Government of Goa to show cause why monetary relief should not be paid to the victims of police action.

Having received no response on merit, the Commission recommended the amount of monetary relief after which the State government, while admitting the delay in response to show cause notice, requested the Commission to reconsider its decision as the economy of the State had been affected badly due to stoppage of mining activities.

The Commission did not accept this contention and eventually had to issue conditional summons for the personal appearance of the Chief Secretary seeking a compliance report on its recommendation. In response, the Additional Secretary, Department of Home (General) submitted the proof of payment of monetary relief.

Courtesy: NHRC, New Delhi