Bodies of two tribals found in gutted Goa store
Panaji: Bodies of two youth, charred to death, were discovered in a storeroom late Wednesday, hours after a massive stir by tribals here turned violent, police said on Thursday.
Police said the bodies, which were burnt beyond recognition, were found inside the store of a cooperative society in Balli village, about 45 km from Panaji.
Superintendent of Police Tony Fernandes said the storeroom had been set on fire by a mob, but Prakash Velip, convenor of the United Tribal Alliances Association (UTAA) which is leading the tribal agitation, said the two were murdered and then their bodies were thrown into the fire.
"The two boys - Mangesh Gaonkar, 26, and Dilip Velip (age not known) were murdered by some goons who came out of nowhere and assaulted us in front of the police. They were murdered and then their bodies were thrown into the fire," Velip said.
"The police were mute spectators. They did not do anything even as the peaceful protesters were being beaten up," Velip said.
Eyewitnesses said a few tribal activists had rushed into the store operated by local tribal leader Prakash Velip after they were assaulted by locals, who were enraged after their shops were stoned in the market.
"A few of them rushed into the store for protection. When the Balli residents saw this, they set fire to the store itself. The fire department personnel managed to save most of those inside," an onlooker said.
The 10,000-strong agitators led by the UTAA Wednesday blockaded Konkan Railway tracks and National Highway 17, demanding prompt implementation of the Tribal Forest Act. They also sought reservation for tribals in government jobs, and the setting up of a Scheduled Tribes commission in Goa.
The agitation ended Wednesday afternoon after state Minister for Tribal Affairs Filipe Neri Rodrigues met the agitators and assured them that their demands "would be treated sympathetically" by the Goa government.
"We have imposed section 144 CrPC (Criminal Procedure code) at Balli to avoid any incident," Superintendent of police Fernandes told a news agency. Under the section, any gathering of five or more people is banned.
In the face of the ban on any gathering in Balli vilage, some unidentified people on Thursday afternoon set fire to a truck in the area.
Speaking to reporters, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat said that he had ordered a magisterial probe into the death of the tribal youth.
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