As thousands of tourists joined the pre-Independence Day parties in Vagator, female activists from the village remained silent warriors, recording clubs flouting noise pollution rules as prescribed by the Goa bench of the Bombay High Court, working into the wee hours of the morning.
“We had to do it. If not us, who would? At the start, we were a group of more than a hundred. But as time passed, many left the group. That, however, has not stopped us from carrying on our fight for truth and justice,” said one of the activists on the condition of anonymity.
Women activists from the village of Vagator have been meeting clandestinely for the last week, chalking out strategies to record evidence that can be presented in court.
“We normally meet to form groups that go collectively and but work independently to throw our adversaries off guard. Yet, sometimes, we are recognised and it feels intimidating,” recounts another activist.
“Days before the parties could start, I got a call from the police inspector pleading with me not to file any complaints against the noise during the Independence Day parties,” shared a lady during one of those clandestine meetings.
“They may think they can buy everyone, but not us, because we are here to protect the future of our children,” quips another.
“We noticed that we were first watched when we were recording, and later approached by people who claimed they were locals and that we should not step on their stomachs,” said a lady sipping a cup of tea after returning from a party with her colleagues.
“The problem is that when we go to the police station, the inspector asks us to first stop the party at Hill Top and that he would then stop all the other parties. Why should we stop parties? Isn’t it the job of the police to stop all parties?” wonders a perplexed activist, who understands the intention of the police and was part of the group that went to file a police complaint.
The warrior women of Vagator believe that their fight will bring peace to their families by specifically helping people suffering from illnesses created by noise pollution.
“Handicapped children in the village are at the receiving end. Students suffer and the old are the worse off as they have no one to come to their rescue,” says a mother of two children.
Many people, according to conversations in the meeting, prefer to extend support to the group in secret for fear of losing their livelihood.
“We were doing good business before and continue the same now. It is hard to understand the paranoia that it is because of this loud music that we are losing clients,” stated one male member who was part of one of the four meetings attended.
“Our men have their own problems in coming forward to help us. But, one must understand that they are with us, if not, we wouldn’t be roaming around collecting information until early morning?” shoots back one warrior when confronted about the lack of men.
Holding morchas or expecting the police to help is pointless for these women, and all now believe the high court is their best route to a solution.
“The high court is our only hope, and Adv Carlos Alvares has shown us what he is capable of. He has done it before and expects us to help him with some more evidence. That is why we meet to be able to give him the best,” commented a lady, before rushing home to feed her ailing child.
“Unfortunately, things have been difficult with clubs now full of bouncers trying to spot and stop people filming,” concludes a lady, as the group decides to split for the evening.
With the police looking gleefully the other way and the elected representatives paying lip service, those fighting against noise pollution are left with no option but to rest their case at the doors of the Bombay High Court in Goa.