Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Goa Govt. relying too much on St Francis Xavier?

For centuries, since the time he had decided to make Goa his permanent residence, St. Francis Xavier is considered to be responsible for the welfare of goa.

The mortal remains of the saint miraculously remain in Old Goa till this date in a casket and the body is kept for veneration for the public every 10 years. However the feast of St. Francis Xavier is celebrated on the 3rd of December every year.

Despite thesaint Francis Xavier entire country witnessing high incidents of terror, Goa has remained away from the terror campaigns of mercenaries, much to the good fortune of Goa and goans. However many goans attribute this to the physical presence of the saint in Goa which Goans consider as the soul of protection casting its safety over Goa and its people. This perception is shared among all Goans irrespective of caste creed or religion. I have met many hindu Goans who have themselves professed this faith very strongly without any hesitation.

However it seems that the local establishment and machinery of the government of Goa is lax and taking matters for granted due to this same faith. It seems that the security apparatus of goa also believes that St. Francis Xavier will take care of Goa and seem to have left the burden of Goa’s security on him. Everytime someone asks the establishment about the security preparedness ( which is laughable) they promptly tom tom about their full preparedness which is far from true. They should however know that God helps those who help themselves and ensure that Goa is fully prepared to face any eventuality.

Following are the facts wherein Goa mysteriously escaped from being hit by terror.

(1) In 2006 the biggest scare followed the arrest on March 11, 2006, of Tarique Jalal alias Tarique Batlo, a Tehreek-ul-Mujahideen terror operative , from the Margao railway station. He was reportedly in possession of one kg of RDX, two electronic detonators, two Russian-made hand-grenades, two cameras and a mobile phone. Why did his operation fail with so much ammunition at hand?

(2) Shamim Ahmad, a suspected activist of the Lashkar-e-Toiba (LET), was arrested on March 30, 2006, at Jelenabad in Gulbarga, Karnataka,He reportedly resided in Goa. Maps of dams, a mobile phone an AK-47, couple of hand grenades, and location maps of power grid installations, some audio-video cassettes and printed material in Urdu were reportedly seized from him. These arrests indicated the possibility of the presence of sleeper cells of Pakistani and Kashmiri jihadi terrorist organisations in Goa.

(3) The SIMI which has been known to have fundamentalist objectives is reported to have shifted some of its members in Goa owing to lax security in Goa. The outfit is reportedly facing lot of problems in Gujarat and Karnataka and therefore find a safe haven in Goa where their antecedents are not checked or verified.

(4) The Goa police has often sought reinforcements after obtaining intelligence from the centre about threat perceptions especially during the IFFI in November 2006. Para-military forces were then requested to enable them to provide effective security during the International Film Festival at Goa and during the holiday season. The reported threat was related to the LET and the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JEM), both Pakistani jihadi terrorist organisations known to be close to the Al Qaeda . However nothing untoward happened in the wake of these reports

(5) Shivraj Patil the then Home Minister had mentioned in 2006 about the critical Infrastructure in India being under serious threat from the coastline and subsequently the media widely speculated of the possibility of a threat of maritime terrorist attacks directed at the Goa shipyard in Goa.

While no terror attacks have ever taken place in Goa, no attempts have been madGoans need to be vigilante and none foiled either. However Goa and Goans need to be extremely vigilant and proactive. We cannot rely completely on the state to do the job all by themselves. We need to provide them with all our help and support. Any unclaimed objects in buses, trains, pavements, near bus-stops, garbage bins , suspicious activities of people, strange new residents, unknown tenants in the neightbourhood, arms suspicion etc need to be reported with utmost urgency. Our vigilance can save our state.

After all we cant put our patron saint Francis Xavier under so much strain to look after us when we are completely succegaad. Vigilance and proactiveness is the key. May Goa always be safe and sound for one and all.

Xittuk Goencar

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