The historic Lohia Maidan, Margao on Thursday saw members of the Scheduled Tribes adopting an unanimous resolution demanding that government of India issue the notification to reserve the seats for STs in Goa Assembly under Article 332 in coordination with Govt. of Goa prior to declaration of Lok Sabha elections 2024.
After a hunger strike at the Lohia Maidan in the morning, the Mission Political Reservation for Scheduled Tribes of Goa and Gakuved Federation along with 14 other ST organizations held a 'Chintan & Manthan' programme in the evening on the occasion of death anniversary of late Dilip Velip and Manguesh Gaonkar.
Goa Pradesh Congress Committee Chief Amit Patkar, former MLA and ST leader Pandurang Madkaikar, Cavelossim Sarpanch Dixon Vaz, AAP leader Siddesh Bhagat were amongst the leaders found seated in the audience.
The Mission adopted a resolution to carry forward to their logical end the pending constitutional obligations towards the Scheduled Tribe Community of Goa for which late Dilip Velip and Manguesh Gaonkar have sacrificed their lives. In this respect, the meeting resolved to shoulder this responsibility and will make the Government accountable to fulfill all the pending demands.
The meet also resolved to demand implementation of all the pending constitutional obligations such as Schedule Area notification, 12 per cent budgetary fund utilization under Tribal sub-plan, Forest Rights claims, Tribes Advisory Council, filling of backlog vacancies etc.
The meeting concluded that these issues can be addressed by sending ST MLAs into the Goa Assembly on reserved seats by implementing political reservation.
It is further unanimously resolved that the Scheduled Tribes community may boycott the 2024 Lok Sabha elections of 2024 if notification to reserve the seats in Goa Assembly for STs is not issued before the election.
The meeting was addressed by ST leaders, Adv John Fernandes, Sarpanch Joseph Vaz, Ramkrishna Jhalmi, Rupesh Velip, Rama Kankonkar, Francisco Colaco, Govind Shirodkar and others.
Says Rupesh Velip: “We are sitting on a hunger strike since the demands for which we fought and the two ST youngsters sacrificed their lives have not been achieved even after the last 12 years. Our main demands are still not fulfilled. There’s no political reservations for the ST community. The Scheduled Areas are not notified till date. Thousands of Forest Rights Cases are still pending”.
He added: “The government goes to the town tom tomming the schemes unveiled for the ST community, but they are still on paper. The complicated documentation has come in the way of our people enjoying the schemes. We have been demanding political reservations for the ST community so that members of our community go to the Assembly and fight for our rights”.
Spokesman for Mission political reservations for the ST communities, Govind Shirodkar said they are all wearing black costumes and are sitting on hunger strike since this is a Black Day in the history of the ST community.
“The ST community had agitated on May 25, 2011 at Balli in support of our 12 demands. It’s now 20 years since the Gawdas, Velips and Kunbis were given the ST status in 2003. The BJP has been shouting from rooftops that they have given this ST status, but the benefits are still to flow to the community”, he said.
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