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Goa Church warns film fest organizers

Says mass agitation could result next year if event not rescheduled

Attendees of the 42nd International Film Festival of India are greeted by protesters in Margao as they arrive for the inaugural ceremony Attendees of the 42nd International Film Festival of India are greeted by protesters in Margao as they arrive for the inaugural ceremony
  • Bosco de Sousa Eremita, Panaji
  • India
  • November 25, 2011
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Officials in the Archdiocese of Goa said they would no longer tolerate the scheduling of the International Film Festival of India during festivities of the feast of St Francis Xavier.

Fr Francis Caldeira, spokesperson for the archdiocese, told a press conference yesterday that authorities would face mass agitation next year if they did not take steps to ensure no conflict with Church events.

The feast of St Francis Xavier is commemorated each year on December 3. The IFFI began on November 23 and runs through December 3.

Protesters gathered in Margao, outside Goa, to stage a protest at the opening session of the festival.

“We take strong exception to this utter lack of sensitivity to the clashing of dates. This will not be tolerated next year,” said Fr Caldeira.

He added that the press conference was held in the hope that the “voice of the people of Goa” would be heard by representatives of international agencies present in the city.

“There are issues with security and sanitation. It is a logistical nightmare, where pilgrims get step-motherly treatment.”

He said the Church was shocked by the “evasive and ambiguous response” to memorandums submitted to federal and state governments.

Peter Viegas, convener of the Save Old Goa Action Committee and organizer of the protest in Margao, said the effort was a token protest. He warned, however, that if the government failed to act in the future, SOGAC would stage much larger agitations.

Ambika Soni, federal minister for information and broadcasting, mentioned the issue at the film festival’s inaugural event, saying that the “international body should take note of the issue before scheduling the festival in future.”

She told journalists after the event that it was not possible to reschedule this year’s event but that “in future, we will make sure that the sentiments of the people of Goa are not hurt.”

State Home Minister Ravi Naik further added that he would personally monitor the security situation for the feast day celebrations on December 3.

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