Panaji: Tension prevailed in Valpoi town of Goa after two groups exchanged heated words over the issue of installing a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji in the area. Shivaji Jayanti is being celebrated on Sunday. Trouble began on Saturday Evening after a group led by BJP supporters allegedly demolished an installation put up by Valpoi Municipal Council as part of the town’s beautification, police said. As per a complaint filed with Valpoi Police, the group, after “demolishing” the structure, tried to install the statue of the Maratha warrior king, triggering protests by locals.
According to police, the two groups exchanged heated words around Sunday midnight, leading to tension in the town, located around 50 kms from Panaji in North Goa. A few vehicles were stoned and members of both the groups continued to move around the town during the night.
The group led by BJP supporters – Prashant Desai, Demu Gaonkar, Roshan Desai, Uday Sawant, Dasharath Mandrekar and others – continued camping on the road as the situation worsened. The group also marched to Valpoi police station last night and alleged that the banners put up by them to celebrate Shivaji Jayanti were torn and demanded arrest of the culprits.
“The crowd later marched on the streets of Valpoi. There was also an incident of stone-pelting wherein couple of vehicles were damaged,” a senior police official said. Valpoi Police Inspector Dipak Pednekar, however, said there was no formal complaint of damaging the vehicles, but arrests in connection with the incident may be made today. He said the situation was now under control.
Meanwhile, local Congress MLA Vishwajit Rane alleged that the BJP-led group was trying to destroy peace and harmony in the town. “They should have asked for proper permission from the municipality if they wanted to install the statue,” he said. Rane appealed to people to maintain peace in the area and not fall prey to “divisive tactics” of some groups.