Goan activist accuses minister of planning attack on him (Lead)

October 14th, 2008 - 4:21 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Oct 14 (IANS) Goan rights activist Aires Rodrigues, who was seriously injured in an attack by a group of unidentified men, Tuesday accused Education Minister Atanasio Monserratte of having planned the assault as he was instrumental in the filing of a sexual harassment complaint against the politician’s son.Rodrigues, spokesperson of the NGO Utt Goenkara, was having dinner with Prajal Sakhardande, a member of the Save Goa Abhiyaan, at the Ashok Hotel in Panaji when they were assaulted by a group of eight masked men Monday night.

“I have received calls from Monseratte’s friends and others in high positions who warned me against pursuing the case,” Rodrigues told reporters here.

Rodrigues, who is also a high court lawyer, said police were forced to take action on a complaint by a German researcher that her daughter was being harassed by Monseratte’s son Rohit after he and other rights activists raked up the issue.

Fadella Fuchs, a researcher on Indian mythology, had said in her Oct 2 complaint to the Calangute police that the minister’s son Rohit had been sending her daughter lewd SMS messages.

However, police only took up the case nine days after the complaint was filed.

“I provided the police proof that the number from which SMSs were sent to Fadella’s daughter is registered in Atanasio Monseratte’s name,” Rodrigues said.

He added that the attack, in which he lost two fingers, came 12 hours before he was to accompany Fuchs to depose before the police against Rohit.

“Monseratte sent a some people to Fadella’s house to try and ensure that the case is dropped,” the activist said.

Superintendent of Police (North) Bosco George said police were aware of the attack on Rodrigues and efforts were being made to nab the culprits.

Monseratte has denied his involvement in the attack.

“There is a political mastermind behind this attack,” he told reporters.

Rodrigues had earlier proved that affidavits filed by Monseratte with the Election Commission were fake. Besides, he helped unearth a salary scam in the Panaji Municipal Corporation. An Indian Administrative Service (IAS) official is the main accused in this case.

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