Tribal agitators at Balli were drunk: Goa police
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Last Updated: Saturday, May 28, 2011, 22:01
Panaji: Goa Police on Saturday claimed that the tribals who were demonstrating at Balli village in the state on Wednesday in support of demands such as implementation of reservations in jobs, were "drunk", which led to the fracas between them, the locals and the police.

They also claimed that police were not present on the spot when two tribal leaders were burnt alive during the violence on May 25.

Police spokesperson Atmaram Deshpande said today that "(tribal) crowds were drunk and in the process of getting drunk. You could get from their body language that they were drunk.

It was evident that the leaders had lost control over the crowd."

Police have filed six cases related to the violence, including an attempt to murder BJP legislator Ramesh Tawadkar and the murder of the two tribal leaders.

Crime branch would handle the cases.

The agitation was being carried out under the banner of United Tribals Associations Alliance (UTAA). It turned violent when local groups beat up the tribals, allegedly in presence of police.

Seventeen policemen, including superintendent of police, Tony Rodrigues, were injured in stone-pelting.

Reacting to the incidents of that day for the first time, police spokesperson said that policemen were outnumbered, and had to back out.

"As the policemen went back to Cuncolim police station, Balli locals retaliated against the tribals," he said. Police were not present when two tribal leaders were burnt to death, he claimed.

Explaining why adequate force was not present, he said the event was supposed to be a token strike, to make tribals aware of their rights. "We had even given permission to hold awareness campaign. No one imagined that the crowd would turn violent."

Ruling out intelligence failure, Deshpande said, "Tribals had planned the attack."

However, the spokesperson could not explain the failure to mobilise more force later.

Deshpande said that bodies of both the tribal leaders were still in the morgue of Goa Medical College and Hospital, as the relatives had not come to identify them.

“One body is charred beyond recognition, so we want to conduct DNA test to ascertain the identity," he said.


First Published: Saturday, May 28, 2011, 22:01

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