Goa’s islanders back down, take part in naval flag hoisting event

Panaji: A day after Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant vowed to use police force to deal with villagers protesting the Indian Navy’s initiative of hoisting a national flag at the St Jacinto island in South Goa, the naval authorities in a statement said that after the “slight misunderstanding” a flag hoisting ceremony was conducted peacefully on Saturday.

“After a slight misunderstanding yesterday (Aug 13), a team from Goa Naval Area and residents amicably participated in National Flag hoisting at St Jacinto island,” the Indian Navy statement said.

“The residents also sang the National Anthem along with the Naval team during the event,” it also said.

On Friday, villagers of St Jacinto island, led by state Nationalist Congress Party president Jose Phillip D’Souza had gathered in the church square on the island to protest against the flag hoisting ceremony planned by the naval authorities.

“Navy officers came here and they said that they will hoist the flag on August 15. I want to say that whether they are from the Navy, government or any private company, we do not give this right to anyone (to hoist a national flag). The villagers are united against this. If the Navy, state and central government try to capture our island, then local villagers will never allow this,” D’Souza had said.

Following the protest the Chief Minister had said that such “anti-India” activities would be dealt with an iron fist.

“It is unfortunate and shameful that some individuals at St Jacinto Island have objected to the hoisting of the national flag by the Indian Navy on the occasion of India’s Independence Day. I condemn this and want to state on record that my Government will not tolerate such acts,” Sawant tweeted on Saturday.

“I have requested the Indian Navy to go ahead with their original plan and have assured full cooperation from Goa Police. These attempts of anti-India activities shall be dealt with an iron fist. It will always be ‘Nation First’,” Sawant also said.

Flag hoisting events are undertaken on island across the nation to instill a sense of patriotism and celebrate the run up to the 75th year of Independence, as part of the Defence Ministry’s ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ initiative. – IANS

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