Panaji: The Goa police chief`s comment on Saturday that he would have ordered firing on tribals during their agitation May 25, triggered a controversy with tribal leaders and the opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) seeking action against him.
Director General of Police (DGP) Aditya Arya was participating in a workshop on human rights, organised by the International Centre Goa (ICG) and chaired by former chief justice of India JS Verma, when he was asked to respond to a query on ineffective police action during a tribal rights agitation at Balli, 40 km from here.
"The leaders had lost control of the agitation. Several vehicles were burnt by the mob... had I been there, I would have ordered firing," Arya said.
Two tribal activists were burnt alive May 25, after local miscreants locked them in a storeroom and set the place on fire, in the presence of police.
A magisterial inquiry ordered by the Goa government has already poked holes in the Goa police intelligence mechanism and accused police of being mute spectators to the killing of the two tribals.
Reacting sharply to Arya`s remark, convenor of the United Tribal Associations Alliance (UTAA) Prakash Velip told a news agency: "This only shows how biased the state machinery is towards tribals. With such statements, the DGP is trying to provoke us into violence. Strictest of action should be taken against him."
Velip who has been heading the tribal rights` movement said: "Instead of investigating who has killed the two tribals activists, the DGP is saying he would have killed more of us. This is a shame. Are we in a dictatorship?"
BJP general secretary Govind Parvatkar said that Arya`s statement made at the human rights seminar on Goa revolution day (June 18) was loaded with cynical irony.
"The DGP is saying that he would have ordered firing on tribals agitating for their rights at a human rights seminar and that too on June 18 this only shows how insensitive this government has become. It looks like we are back into Portugal`s dictatorial regime," Parvatkar said.
A day after the two tribal activists were killed, police public relations officer Atmaram Deshpande issued a statement saying that several of the agitating tribals were drunk. His statement too was criticised by political parties and civil society activists.