Stray violence mars Goa shutdown called by Hindu group (Lead)

October 20th, 2008 - 7:29 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Oct 20 (IANS) Stray incidents of violence marred a day-long shutdown in Goa called by a rightwing Hindu group to protest the alleged desecration of Hindu temples. Markets were shut and traffic kept off the roads in most parts of the state. The Goa bandh, called by the Goa Mandir Suraksha Samiti, was supported by the Goa unit of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).

The strike was near total and essentials like vegetables, milk and bread remained unavailable throughout the day.

Private bus operators as well as petrol pumps remained closed. Even makeshift cigarette and tea stalls normally located along the by-lanes and streets remained shut.

In the latter half of the day, an altercation between the protesters and a restaurant manager resulted in a mild cane charge by the police in Mapusa, a north Goa town. A few protesters were injured in the confusion. Three buses belonging to the state-run Kadamba Transport Corporation Limited were also stoned in Mapusa.

Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar as well as local BJP MLA Francis Dsouza rushed to the spot to resolve the issue.

“There was slight misunderstanding. The manager of the restaurant said things he should not have. We will now practice Gandhigiri and boycott the restaurant,” Parrikar told a press conference later in the day.

Superintendent of Police (North) Bosco George told the media that the shutdown had in no way affected the major road arteries in the state. “The national highways remained open. There were minor blockages which were cleared immediately,” George claimed.

Addressing the media, Parrikar claimed that such an overwhelming response to a bandh was a first in Goa. “The bandh was nearly 95 percent successful. The people of Goa have not only spoken against the desecration of temples, but also against the shoddy government led by Chief Minister Digambar Kamat.”

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