Anti-mining protests in south Goa

October 13th, 2008 - 12:18 am ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Oct 12 (IANS) A fresh mining lease in the south Goan region of Quepem has led to a resurgence in anti-mining protests, even as police arrested seven people after villagers and activists came out on the streets and blocked the passage of trucks carrying iron ore, officials said Sunday. Those arrested include Seby Rodrigues, a civil rights researcher, and an 85-year-old woman, on charges of rioting.

Inspector General of Police Kishen Kumar said the accused had been remanded to judicial custody and further investigations were on.

Speaking to IANS Sunday evening, Kumar denied reports of a Catholic priest being arrested.

The demonstration Saturday night came on the eve of the inauguration of a fresh mining lease in Colamb region of Quepem, which has seen protests from the local villagers.

A two dozen-strong group had squatted on the road, used to ferry iron ore extracted from mines to barges.

In a statement to the media, anti-mining activist Philip Neri Dsouza said a minister in the Goa cabinet, a leader of the Goa Youth Congress and a member of the Goa district council had “unleashed terror on the villagers of Maina-Quepem using government machinery”.

Floriano Lobo, president of the Goa Suraj Party, said Rodrigues was being branded a Maoist by the pro-mining lobby.

“Sebastian Rodrigues is a Ph.D. student and is involved nationally and internationally in bringing awareness to the world about the ill-effects of unplanned and illegal mining in India, more specifically in his home state of Goa,” he said in a statement.

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