Mind your language

Joao Barros Pereira
Tuesday, 28 January 2020

We are Indians, we are not Portuguese!

The general manager of South West Railway (SWR) Ajay Kumar Singh has succeeding in alienating the people of several villages caused by his recent remarks.
While he said SWR will stand by the decision taken by the central and state governments to go ahead with the additional doubling of the railway track to Vasco station, he also referred to the people of Cortalim constituency as Portuguese including the MLA which did not go down well with Ms Alina Saldana, the wife of the late Mathany Saldana who joined the BJP and got elected as the MLA from the same constituency.
When her husband, the late Mathany Saldhana stood on a BJP ticket and won the elections, he was not only successful but also managed to convince the Cortalim voters to vote for the BJP. By then, the majority of Roman Catholics were completely disgusted with the Congress Party as they were up to their necks in corruption. Some even said the level of corruption had reached a higher level than a coconut tree.
When Mathany Saldana died BJP Chief Minister Manhohar Parrikar cried in public for he had supported the BJP Chief Minister for over a
decade and more through a difficult time.
The SWR general manager has cut a deep swath in the heart of his widow and the Roman Catholic community BJP voters even though he later apologised for his remark. Obviously, this is more than a Freudian slip; is it a dislike of the Roman Catholic community? Does he think Roman Catholics are not Indians? Have Goans come from overseas as the invaders he mentioned - the Moghuls, Portuguese and British did? In the NW of India after Alexander the Great and the Greeks arrived in our country several invaders from beyond our land borders also invaded India. Some foreign invaders came from overseas, and some came overland. Are the people of north India not Indians? Maybe, the general manager of SW Railways might want to tell the people of this country who is an Indian and who is not!
He says houses have been demolished in other states in India. Is he aware of the situation in Goa?
Mining, the backbone of the Goan economy has collapsed and the BJP government is making an all-out effort to revive it. Tourism, the
golden goose which people of Goa thought would live forever is ailing, and may soon be admitted to the Goa Medical Hospital. With tourism, an ailing industry, the old Indo-Portuguese architectural masterpieces which are admired by people all over the world simply cannot be allowed to be damaged any further by the SWR. They are a priceless part of India’s heritage as is the Taj Mahal.
CM Sawant has shown concern for the richness of our architectural heritage and has indicated the additional railway track should not
damage the old heritage houses. These houses are a core part of Goan identity, and a lot of damage has been done already.
The people of the villages are struggling to keep these houses alive.
We already have development of heritage houses and what the SWR can offer us at this time in our history is only further destruction of an important aspect of Goan identity. As we are a part of India and we are Indians, it is also a destruction of Indian heritage and identity.
The GM commented that the SW Railways are not the Mughals, British or Portuguese invaders who took over our lands. I assume his reference is to brute force.
While the South West Railway is not similar to people who came from beyond our borders, he has scored a self goal. We were asked by the SWR if we wanted the additional track and all the villagers answered in a resounding NO. The SWR now wants to go ahead with the laying down of the additional track by invoking a special law. Isn’t this brute force?
We were asked and we answered a big no! The SWR then decides they want to go ahead and lay down the additional track. Why take the trouble to ask us? Isn’t this brute force?

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