Political power in Goa is used to oppress others and nowhere is this more evident than in Porvorim which comprises land which is arguably the most costly in the entire state of Goa. This is why MLAs like Rohan Khaunte are developers and builders because land, in this prime tourist destination, has become a scarce commodity.
So, we have a situation where such politicians cater to the general public by professing to protect the rights of Goans or Goem, Goemkar and Goemkarponn - when in fact, they ensure that those from other states who are blue collar workers like drivers, carpenters, milk vendors and others are allowed to build illegal houses on the hill slope of Salvador do Mundo and settle there. Those who complain against these illegal houses which have sprouted, like my client, John Menezes, realise there is a powerful cabal behind those who have built these illegal houses.
So, they better accept it or risk getting arrested in false cases and being forced to run to courts to get out of these false cases foisted on them by the Porvorim Police, who till recently, acted as an extension arm of the powerful former Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte who continues as the MLA from Porvorim.
For a brief flashback, Rohan Khaunte is a very affable man. He holds a B.E. degree from Goa University and studied in the local People’s high school at Panaji. He also is the chairman of several companies which are involved in legitimate business pursuits like the Shiv Samarth group which was started by the late Ashok Khaunte, who is the father of the Porvorim MLA, Rohan Khaunte.
After completing his graduation in industrial electronics, Rohan Khaunte joined the business in 1994. He became the president of the Panaji City Club and chairman of the Porvorim Yuva Welfare Trust where several jobless youth were gainfully employed and as a result were indebted to Rohan Khaunte. For his social work, Khaunte was awarded the Young Entrepreneur Award by the Governor of Goa in 2003. As he himself declared on his website, he developed contacts with the police, who included several senior police officers, businessmen, other MLAs.
When he joined the BJP cabinet after it won the 2017 elections, it was said he was the third most powerful minister in the cabinet. I realised the extent of that powr when my client, John Menezes, emailed the Porvorim Police seeking protection during a site inspection of illegal houses built on the hill slope close to the office of the village panchayat. My client, John Menezes sent several emails to the Porvorim Police and when I visited the police station on September 26 th 2018, I was told to meet the deputy superintendent of police (DySP) Kiran Poduwal.
Now, Poduwal was a product of the renowned Don Bosco high school in Panaji of which I myself am an alumni. So, I went to the soft-spoken Kiran Poduwal on the first floor of the Porvorim police station as directed by some police constables. I was ushered in and told to sit down. I handed over my application seeking police protection to Poduwal who asked me if thee was any danger to my life. I replied there certainly was because this was a site inspection of several houses which had been built illegally on the hill slope and my client, 86-year-old John Menezes, had undergone knee replacement surgery and was not in a position to countenance any
violence which may break out.
To this, Poduwal smilingly replied he would definitely send a police vehicle to act as observers and I need not fear. Believing him, I left the police station. But the next day, not only was no police vehicle sent but I was allegedly mercilessly beaten by those who had planned this violence in advance. My limbs would have been amputated and my legs and hands crushed by them which was what was planned. But I rose up screaming and rushed down the hill which was captured by some press photographers who had gathered at the site.
After I lodged a police complaint, I was sent for a medical check up to the district hospital. The PSI was Sagun Sawant and the PI was Santosh Dessai. Those who allegedly assaulted me including the local sarpanch whom I named in my written complaint, came to the police station many hours later. After the medical check up, I and my client, John Menezes returned home.
But after returning home, I was shocked to learn that the local television channels had telecast news of the Porvorim MLA and Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte who visited the police station with a huge mob of his supporters from neighbouring village panchayats to demand my arrest. I had done nothing wrong but it appears that DySP Kiran Poduwal instructed his subordinates PI Santosh Dessai and PSI Sagun Sawant to register a false and bogus FIR against me for obstructing a public servant from doing his duty and assaulting him. The local media were pressurised to publish this false news.
I later learnt that Kiran Poduwal had got several phone calls from an associate of Rohan Khaunte not to send a police vehicle to the site inspection so that I would be beaten up. Poduwal obliged and what Khaunte wanted was accomplished.
But believe it or not, God does play a role in dispensing justice. So, I was amazed to learn that the supine Porvorim Police had arrested Rohan Khaunte after midnight on February 6 (Thursday) for allegedly threatening a BJP spokesperson. Khaunte was later released on bail early morning for attending the Goa Assembly session.
Khaunte, was booked under section 341 (wrongful restrainment) and 323 (voluntarily causing hurt) of the Indian Penal Code. The complaint was filed by Goa BJP spokesman Premanand Mahambrey alleging Khaunte threatened him at the Assembly corridors. “Khaunte was arrested at his residence and was released on bail,” deputy superintendent of police (Porvorim) Edwin Colaco told reporters.
Since the assembly was in progress, the police have to first furnish details and seek the permission of the Speaker Rajesh Patnekar for the arrest. Seeking permission, police said, “Since the accused is an elected individual and the complainant a spokesperson, it could lead to consequences if Khaunte is not placed on arrest.”
The face-off between Khaunte and Mahambrey allegedly took place at assembly corridors after Mahambrey mentioned Khaunte in a press conference accusing him of being involved in illegal activities.
In the year 2017, during the Assembly elections, the Mapusa police booked the election agent of Porvorim MLA Rohan Khaunte for threatening and attempt to assault a head constable attached to Mapusa traffic cell while he was performing his election duty at Peddem complex on Saturday night.
According to Mapusa police, Dattaram Gawandi, head constable attached to Mapusa traffic cell has lodged a complaint that Suraj Borkar threatened him with dire consequences while he was performing his duties at Peddem complex where EVMs from all polling stations of Bardez taluka were being brought to be handed over to the respective returning officers.
Gawandi in his complaint stated that at around 11.15 pm when he was performing his duty at the entrance of Peddem complex, a four-wheeler driven by Borkar with Khaunte seated inside tried to enter the complex when he stopped the vehicle and informed Borkar that private vehicles are not allowed inside the complex.
The complaint further alleged that Borkar got out of the car, argued with the complainant and threatened him with dire consequences. Acting on the complaint, Mapusa police registered a case against Borkar under Section 506 (criminal intimidation) and Section 353 (assault or criminal force to deter public servant from discharging his duty) of IPC. PSI Kiran Naik is investigating the matter.
There is a video of Rohan Khaunte intervening on behalf of Suraj Borkar and allegedly obstructing a police officer from interrogating Borkar. A senior police officer then shoos away this junior police officer. That is the extent of Rohan Khaunte’s influence over the Porvorim Police. Borkar took part in the press conference against me alleging that I was not a lawyer and that I had obstructed the sarpanch from doing his job. All lies which have to be exposed.
So, whether the case for threatening the BJP spokesperson goes to trial remains to be seen.