Karwar: Booked for agitating against ‘Railway Double Tracking’ in Goa, protesters and politicians have appealed to withdraw cases filed against agitators following a Supreme Court order which set aside the clearance granted by the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) for doubling the railway line from Castle Rock in Uttar Kannada to Collem in Goa.
In November 2020, over 3,000 Goans took to the streets against double tracking in Chandor village of South Goa under the banner, ‘Goent Kolso Naka’ (don’t want coal in Goa).
During this protest, agitators were booked under various sections by Railway Police and Goa Police. They were charged for blocking the tracks.
“We were protesting peacefully to protect our environment. We are fighting in public interest. Hence, cases filed against us should be withdrawn,” Abhijit Prabhudesai, against whom the Railway Police has filed a charge sheet in Margao’s Judicial Magistrate First Class, told IANS.
The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) formed by the apex court had expressed concerns that doubling the railway track from Castle Rock to Collem would destroy the fragile ecosystem of the Western Ghats, which was an internationally recognised biodiversity hotspot.
According to Prabhudesai, the Railway Police have filed cases against four activists, while Goa Police had summoned around seven persons after the protest.
“We did nothing wrong. Mahatma Gandhi has given us the biggest defense by way of ‘Peaceful Satyagraha’. It is the only tool which we use to protest against anti-people and anti-environment policies.
“Instead of filing cases against us, the authorities should file cases against coal lobby who are threatening the environment of Goa and Karnataka,” he added.
Goa Forward Party leader and Fatorda MLA, Vijai Sardesai has also demanded the withdrawal of the cases.
“Now that the Supreme Court has cancelled the #NBWLAclearance for #DoubleTracking, I request the @goacm@DrPramodPSawant to withdraw the cases filed against activists for protesting against the project, as a gesture of goodwill. After all, they fought for interests of Goa,” he tweeted.