Blogger writing on civic issues assaulted in Goa

February 25th, 2009 - 3:10 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Feb 25 (IANS) Less than a month after an anti-mining web blogger in Goa was slapped with a Rs.5 billion defamation suit, another blogger was assaulted in the coastal town of Benaulim, allegedly for highlighting civic issues.
Colva Police Inspector Edwin Colaco said Maximo Rodrigues, a civil society activist, was beaten up by four people Tuesday while he was taking photographs of an illegal construction in Benaulim to be posted on his blog.

“We have arrested Raymond and David Fernandes in connection with the complaint filed by Maximo Rodrigues. We are on the lookout for another person who was also involved in the assault,” said Colaco.

Maximo, who is a part of the Benaulim Villagers Action Committee (BVAC), runs a community blog www.bvacbenaulim.blogspot.com that highlights issues of rampant unplanned development in Goa.

“The posts on our blog are mainly about haphazard development in the name of mega projects and illegal constructions in the coastal village of Benaulim,” Maximo told IANS from his hospital bed.

The 42-year-old has been hospitalised for severe injuries to his head and a broken nose. He is expected to be discharged Thursday.

Maximo’s blog, which has been cross-indexed with several blogs run by activists in Goa, reads “this blog is our cry, our call, our voice to you wherever you are located in the world to extend your support and solidarity with all the fighting Banaulekars. Come let’s join our effort to defend Benaulim”.

While the last two posts on the blog describe the assault on Maximo, other posts are accompanied by photographs of several instances of alleged illegal construction, destruction of water-bodies and police atrocities on the villagers of Benaulim.

“The blog helps us showcase the issues which affect Benaulim and are not covered effectively in the media,” Maximo said.

“Development is fine, but constructions rabidly coming up is not. We have had an unprecedented number of cases of malaria in the last couple of years and there is simply no interest shown by the administration in handling the disease,” he added.

Benaulim, a coastal village in South Goa, is one of the several coastal villages which have been resisting the construction of mega residential projects, which villagers allege have been permitted by flouting panchayat rules and regulations.

Like Maximo, Sebastian Rodrigues, who passionately blogs about excesses by iron ore mine operators in Goa’s less glamourous hinterland was targeted for allegedly defaming the mining outfit and affecting its business. He was slapped with a criminal defamation suit of Rs.5 billion in the last week of January.

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