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Tribal unrest in Goa kills two workers
Cashew nut processors burned to death during violent protestsProtesters overturned a vehicle and set fire to it
- Bosco de Sousa Eremita, Goa
- May 26, 2011
The situation remained tense today when they set a truck on fire.
About 7,000 tribals under the United Tribals Association Alliance (UTAA) laid siege to three vital points, paralysing road and rail traffic, chopping down trees and removing fishplates from railway tracks in support of their demands at Balli, Canacona in the state capital Panaji.
The UTAAâ€™s 12 demands included setting up of a Schedule Tribes Commission, implementation of the Tribal Forest Act, reservation for tribal in government jobs and a tribal ministry.
Trouble started when police tried to clear the blockade after the government had agreed to most of their demands. But the agitators threw stones at the police.
Soon the locals began to vent their ire on the tribals and they set fire to a cooperative credit society and a cashew nut project owned by a tribal leader. Tribal-owned vehicles were also torched.
Two workers, Manguesh Gaonkar and Dilip Velip, of the cashew nut project, were trapped in the blaze, while four managed to escape with minor injuries.
Police have registered a case against former minister Prakash Velip, BJP MLA Ramesh Tawadkar and some other leaders.
Chief minister Digambar Kamat said yesterday that the government has fulfilled the tribalsâ€™ main demands and has promised to look into the rest.
â€śTheir main demand was for the constitution of a Schedule Tribes Commission and this has been formed.â€ť
However, he said he could not meet the demand for reservation of five assembly seats for tribals.
Prakash Velip, UTAA president, said the government has been fooling the tribals with â€śempty assurancesâ€ť for the past eight years.
Tribals account for 12 percent of the state population of 1.4 million.
Salesian Father George Quadros who has initiated pioneering work amongst tribals, said â€śthe issues ought to be resolved soonest, or this will turn into another troubled zone like the northeast.â€ť