Almost nine months ago, on April 6, 2023 Gomantak Times Digital had carried an item: “Vagator women to raise their voice against noise pollution in HC". On Sunday, two days before Goa’s Liberation Day, they did just that as senior citizens walked to the Anjuna Police station with lit candles in their hands.
The reason for this march was the glaring noise that went on well past the stipulated hour of 10 pm – though sound above 55 decibels is just not allowed in residential areas.
The senior citizens marched with lit candles to educate the police that what was happening is wrong. What they wanted to say, and the cops should have known, is that the health and safety of each and every citizen is the benchmark of success of any government and that this government was not just failing but was doing worse by playing deaf to the orders of the High Court of Bombay at Goa Bench on noise pollution.
As the police showed that they were above the law and that money is first, thoughts ran towards our Liberation Day which we are celebrating today, or should we say, insulting rather than celebrating?
When Goa was liberated in 1961, there lived a sage who went by the name of Padre Chico Monteiro – a priest and one amongst the few Goans who believed that ours was not a liberation but an annexation. The late Padre Chico, for standing fast to his beliefs, went to jail and ultimately through a verdict in the Supreme Court got the acts of December 19, 1961, to be termed as annexation.
Padre Chico comes to mind and so does the Supreme Court judgment because what happened at Vagator on Sunday was beyond belief -- loud music could be heard even at the Anjuna police station right through the night and early into the morning while the law enforcers played deaf and dumb.
Worse, the Superintendent of Police (SP) of North Goa was incapable of acting and the situation reached a nadir and by dawn it became evident that the money rolled up to law enforcers and to the law makers.
Or, how could one explain such blatant disregard to the orders of the Supreme Court and our own High Court? Loud music was initially not played after the Supreme Court ruling but the orders began being ignored once money became motive.
The late Padre Chico went to jail because his beliefs could not be shaken and he showed then that principles were what made Goa stand out because they were part of our ethos.
The senior citizens who marched late at night with lit candles did so because they too believed that they were different from the rest of their fellow villagers and for them life was about living and not greed.
Like many other citizens of the village, they too were approached with bribes; with offers to buy their silence but they chose not to be bought because for them it was about being what they are – Goan!
“If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There’s no point in being a damn fool,” W C Fields wrote and the senior citizens proved that despite failing they will keep trying till they succeed because they believe they are not fools.
This is what Padre Chico had done and what is today being carried forward by the seniors from Vagator. On Goa’s 62nd Liberation Day, they are proving that despite the police showing that they can be bent, they will not succumb.
It appears that it has been a long time since we got our liberation because the road carved out for our freedom has been turned, twisted and has left many in turmoil, especially those opting for goodness.
Our traditional comunidades are going, and while attempts are being made to salvage the remnants, there are also attempts on to shove them into oblivion.
Because we are what and who we are, we welcomed all and are now being treated as natives by people who think they have the right to call themselves Goans.
Goa at 62 – especially after the manner the Goa Police behaved on Sunday in Vagator – is not a nice place to live in, forget celebrating Liberation. The story becomes sad when the people repeatedly need to depend on the High Court and not the government it elected.
Perhaps whilst many were celebrating Liberation, Padre Chico foresaw 62 years ago what would happen down the line. The way things are moving, we are far from understanding the alphabets of Liberation.