Sunday, 18 August 2019

Abuse of Coastal Security Police Station at Harbour, Vasco to harass and intimidate Gillnet fishers in Zuari River


Date: 16/08/2019

To,

The Chief Minister,
Government of Goa,
Secretariat, Porvorim,
Goa

Subject: Abuse of Coastal Security Police Station at Harbour, Vasco to harass and intimidate Gillnet fishers in Zuari River

Dear Mr. Chief Minister Dr. Pramod Sawant,

Greetings of Peace!

As you are already aware of the complaints of illegal fishing in Zuari river by Trawlers and Purse seine fishing boats we write to inform you about the abuse of Harbour Coastal Security Police Station, Vasco to harass and intimidate the Zuari River fishing communities by registering fictitious criminal cases and registering charge-sheet and forwarding the to Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Vasco as well as Judicial Magistrate First Class A at Vasco.

Coastal Security Police whose actual mandate is to stop illegal fishing but its actions are directed to intimidate those small scale fishers involved in complaining about various threats to fishing from water sports, purse seine boats, trawlers, marinas, and many more. Criminalization of small-scale fishers has been initiated through State starting litigation against two leaders of the small scale fishers named Sanjay Pereira of Cacra and Cosmo Pires of Siridao one in January 2019 and another in July 2019. 

In 2018 Harbour coastal security police station through Police Sub-Inspector Therron Dcosta initiated the Chapter case no. 01/2018 under section 145 of Code of Criminal Procedure in the Court of Hon’ble Sub-Divisional Magistrate Vasco with two Fisheries officers of the Directorate of Fisheries, Panjim as witnesses. Section 145 of Code of Criminal Procedure empowers Executive Magistrate to interfere in the disputes on land and water that may lead to breach of Peace. Fishers had to pay the Lawyer to appear before the Court of Sub-Divisional Magistrate and subsequent hearings. 

To add to this ongoing case Harbour Coastal Security Police Station moved the same case in the Court of Judicial Magistrate First Class at (A), Vasco-da-Gama and summons were issued under section 61 of Code of Criminal Procedure bearing the seal of the Court to the two accused fisheries leaders of the Zuari River Gill net fishers. Summons served by Police officer asked the two fishers to appear before the Court in person and the court summons state that they are charged under section 143, 147, 148, 323, 324, 341, 504, 506(ii), 384, 511 read with 149 of Indian Penal Code (IPC). They were called for the hearing on August 3, 2019 in the Court. 

It must be noted that this criminalizing attempt is against the leadership of the fishers even though none of the two ever had been arrested in this matter. They are asked to keep the surety worth deposit of Rs.5000/- in the Court. This matter is of September 2018 and surety is asked to be kept in the Court after a period of one year. Normal procedure is to keep the surety at the time of arrest but both the fishers were never arrested and case was registered at Harbour Police Station without any of them being placed under arrests and subsequent bail. They were not arrested anticipating major public uproar and mounting public pressure on State administration.

This criminalizing need further analysis of the criminal provision invoked to so. Section 143 of IPC deals with Punishment for unlawful assembly involved imprisonment up to six months or fine, or both. It is not known as to how the two persons constituted unlawful assembly when the definition of unlawful assembly according to section 141 involves five or more persons. Two people cannot be designated as forming unlawful assembly. The invocation of section 143 is clear indication that the charges are levied to criminalize even though there are no grounds to do so.

Section 147 deals with Punishment for rioting extending up to two years or fine or both. Interestingly Rioting is defined under Section 146 as violence used by an unlawful assembly. Above analysis indicates that two people cannot form unlawful assembly. The invocation of Section 147 is malafide with intention of suppressing expressions of the gillnet fishers of Zuari river. The above two Sections 143 and 147 are not applicable for two persons.

The third section 148 applied is more serious non-compoundable means complaining party cannot withdraw the same and is triable by Magistrate of the first class. It is section that deals with rioting, armed with deadly weapon or anything used as weapon and likely to cause death punishable with imprisonment up to 3 years or with fine or both. State by imposing this section 148, aims to prove that the fisher leaders are anti-social elements all out to destroy peace in society by re-interpreting their engagement with Justice Issues in Zuari River. Since this section is triable only by Magistrate Court fishers will be compelled to incur cost of litigation without escape. This is merely harassment tactic as it is a normal practice that Justice Delays is a rule in Indian Courts rather than an exception. One case lingers for any duration between 5 years to 10 years. How much costs fishers will have to incur to contest financially including lawyer fees and mental tensions besides the fact that Justice delayed is Justice denied?

The fourth section invoked of IPC is Section 323 deals with Punishment for voluntarily causing hurt that extends to one year or fine of Rupees one thousand or with both. This is the case of unprovoked hurt. Harbour Coastal Police has attempted to prove that fisher leaders of Zuari fishers are maniacs that derive pleasure from causing hurt voluntarily even without anyone provoking them. It appears a ground to inflict State violence on fishers by spreading this impression of violence mongers on fisher leaders.

The fifth Section 324 invoked deals with voluntarily causing hurt by dangerous weapons or means is non-compoundable and triable by Magistrate. This section carries punishment of three years imprisonment or fine or both. State tried to paint fisher leaders as dreaded goons all out to kill people when actually they are rising ecological, Peace, Justice and Public Health issues. Imposition of this section is nothing more than propaganda against small scale fisher initiative which is unbecoming of the State.

Sixth Section 341 involved punishment for wrongful restraint of any person extending imprisonment of one month or fine of five hundred Rupees or both. This section is compoundable and is triable by Magistrate. State by booking fisher leaders of Zuari under Section 341 is attempting to prove that they unnecessarily stopping people in their ways. This is certainly not true and the case is filed only for the reasons of harassing gillnet fishers with likely nexus with nefarious powerful elements who cannot tolerate fishers asserting in defense of ecological health of Zuari River.

Seventh invoked section 504 against the fisher leaders is deals with causing intentional insult with intent to provoke breach of the peace. Punishment for this offence extends up to two years or fine, or with both. This is compoundable and triable by Magistrate. Any expression furthering Justice can be interpreted as offence under Section 504. In a way State has attempted to communicate to the Zuari fishers that they should not speak out against purse seine boats as well as trawler frequently carrying on illegal fishing in Zuari. Imposition of this section is an attempt at gagging. 

Eight Section 506(ii) deals with Punishment for criminal intimidation when threat is to cause death or grievous hurt imprisonment extending up to seven years: invocation of this section on fisher leaders indicate that State intends to create fear and panic amongst fishers of Zuari instead of resolving the nagging problems threatening Zuari river fishery including water sports, marinas, purse seine fishing, trawling and many more.

Ninth Section 384 invoked deals with Punishment for extortion extending for the period of three years or fine or with both. State intends to brand Gillnet fishers of Zuari River as extortionists all out to demand ransoms. This is another way of painting two Gillnet fisher leaders negatively in public thereby defaming the movement of fishers in defense of Zuari river ecology. Offence under section 384 is non-compoundable and triable by any Magistrate.

Tenth Section 511 invoked deals with Punishment for attempting to commit offences punishable with imprisonment for life or other imprisonment. This punishment is flexible for the failed attempts to crime and involved half the period of imprisonment had the attempt to commit such offence was successful. Here State is unsure if fisher have really succeeded in committing any offence as it suspect that the attempt of fishers to commit an offence has been a failure. Nevertheless State desires to punish the fishers of Zuari River. This attitude reflects sadist mindset of the State machinery in operation governing Rivers and Fisheries in Goa.

Eleventh Section 149 invoked holds every member of an unlawful assembly guilty of offence committed in prosecution of common object. This again is completely misplaced as definition of Unlawful Assembly under section 141 needs minimum of five persons and two persons cannot form unlawful assembly. It is a tragedy that Police sub-Inspector who registered this case at Harbour Police Station does not have even an elementary understanding of law and has abused his position as police sub inspector to harass fisher of Zuari River.  Further this Police officer is wasting the time of the Court as well as draining out the financial resources of the fishers in hiring of lawyer. State Home Ministry must intervene and withdraw this case against Zuari river fisheries or else this case has a potential to trigger major public unrest against the State as both the Coastal Police as well as Fisheries Officers are standing out as enemies of Zuari River Gillnet fishers. Earlier State Government has withdrawn several criminal cases from the Courts including one against those accused in attack on Velim Church few years ago. The case against Zuari River fishers is fictitious and filed to push them in defensive mode in struggle against illegal fishing in Zuari being carried on by Purse seine boats, trawlers, water sports, marinas and other enemies.

The entire State led prosecution through Police Sub-Inspector Therron Dcosta of Harbour Police Station against the fishers of Zuari River in both the Courts in Vasco is against the internationally acceptable standards of fishery practices that are made enforceable in India through Article 54 of the National Marine Fishing Regulation Policy 2017. Paragraph 5.11 of SSF Guidelines states “States should provide small-scale fishing communities and individuals, including vulnerable and marginalized people, access through impartial and competent judicial and administrative bodies to timely, affordable and effective means of resolving disputes over tenure rights in accordance with national legislation, including alternative means of resolving such disputes, and should provide effective remedies, which may include an entitlement to appeal, as appropriate. Such remedies should be promptly enforced in accordance with national legislation and may include restitution, indemnity, just compensation and reparation.” Certainly the litigations in First class magistrate court are not affordable to the fishers of Zuari River and may create crisis situation with unknown unexpected consequences.

Directorate of Fisheries and Coastal Security Police instead of persecuting fishers of Zuari for their vocal stance in defense of Zuari river fishery must join them to tackle illegal fishing as per requirement of the international standards of fishery administration as reflected in SSF Guidelines paragraph 5.16 that states “States should ensure the establishment of monitoring, control and surveillance (MCS) systems or prompt application of the existing ones applicable to and suitable for small-scale fisheries. They should provide support to such systems, involving small-scale fisheries actors as appropriate and promoting participatory arrangements within the context of co-management. States should ensure effective monitoring and enforcement mechanisms to deter, prevent and eliminate all forms of illegal and/or destructive fishing practices having a negative effect on marine and inland ecosystems. States should endeavor to improve registration of the fishing activity. Small scale fishers should support the MCS systems and provide to the State fisheries authorities the information required for the management of the activity. This section of SSF Guidelines must be studied and reflected upon by the Harbour Coastal Security Police Station as well as Directorate of Fisheries, Government of Goa rather than launching witch hunt through criminal cases in Courts in Vasco against two fishers of Zuari River with eleven Sections of Indian Penal Code. Combined reading of all the applied IPC sections makes two fishers appear as seasoned criminals while letting the real criminals indulging in purse seine fishing, trawlers, and water sports operators go Scot free. The level of functioning of both the Fisheries department as well Coastal Security Police force together with Home Ministry must re-look the way governance is being conducted rather than imposing IPC sections on fishers, a move that has triggered tremendous uproar against the State Government. It is recommended on priority basis that both the cases against two fishers of Zuari be withdrawn as Police officer has not even studied the definition of Unlawful Assembly under section 141 IPC that it needs five people to attract this section and applied it recklessly only to boomerang back at him. These cases must be withdrawn by the State for fishers do not have money spend on litigation and needs to focus on constructive governance of rivers and fisheries in Goa. It is expected that the good sense people in the Goa Government will take note of this injustice reported public and act. After all when injustice became intolerable even the Judges of the Indian Supreme Court came out to speak at the Press Conference. Judges trusted power of People and hence spoke to media.

Situation of fishers in Zuari River is equally grave and crying for attention. The fishers of Zuari are inspiration for ongoing unionizing of fishers and related occupations. They initiated move to set up All Goa Small Scale Responsible Fisheries Union. Their delegates participated in the 4th National Conference of National Platform for Small Scale Fish Workers (Inland) in Delhi where India’s Fisheries Minister Pratap Chandra Sarangi addressed the delegates on making Inland fisheries and promised to finalized Policy on Inland Fishing Policy. Sanjay Pereira against whom the Coastal Police has registered the case was delegate to Delhi.

Goa’s Coastal Police has been authorized to act against those indulging in illegal fishing. In the present case Coastal Police after investigations informed Court of Hon’ble Sub-Divisional Magistrate, Vasco-da-Gama that police investigations has revealed that complainants themselves were indulging in illegal fishing in Zuari river at a time when this incident is reported to have taken place where in boats from Zuari river were taken by some people to the Siridao shore and the accused are involved in opposing illegal fishing in Zuari river. When Coastal Police Station is aware as to who was involved in illegal fishing and has clear mandate to act against those indulging in the such practices then why did Coastal Police forwarded out rightly fictitious case to the Civil Court in Vasco? Under whose Political Pressure Goa’s Coastal Police are prompting their actions? Its clear that Coastal Police Station at Harbour is acting as private revenge office of the lobby involved in illegal fishing in Zuari river and in this pursuit has gone all out not only to misuse police station by is also threatening to tarnish image of Judiciary by getting Sanjay Pereira and Cosmo Pires arrested after one year. This indicates that Coastal Police knows very well that they have no moral courage to arrest Sanjay Pereira and Cosmo Pires on their own and Police have almost dragged Judiciary into disrepute. This is really sad and amounts to abuse of Judiciary as PSI D’Costa cannot be assumed ignorant that Section 141 of IPC needs five people to constitute unlawful assembly but deliberate and intentional harassment leaving reasons for public speculations. If Police is allowed to abuse Judiciary in this manner then Public trust in Police as well as Judiciary will certainly diminish.

You are therefore requested to intervene and direct withdrawal of these cases filed against Sanjay Pereira, former member of Santa Cruz Panchayat and Cosmo Pires, Former Sarpanch of Siridao village Panchayat at the earliest.

Thanking you,
Yours Sincerely,

Sd/-

Maggie Silveira
President - Goa State



Wednesday, 24 July 2019

Call for action against illegal trawler fishing in Zuari river

Bharat Mukti Morcha (BMM), Goa Unit strongly condemns night trawling in Zuari river being carried on from daily these days from 9.00 pm to 4.00 am by two trawlers. Both the fisheries department as well as Coastal Police has not taken note of the occurrences due to unknown reason. Trawling is banned in rivers and also withing 5 kms from the shoreline. Trawling is also banned during night time. In addition trawling is banned during June- July to allow rivers and ecosystem to recover and maintain its capacity to nurture breeding of various fish species.

Even though there are laws against this kind of trawling their enforcement is pathetic. BMM calls for night patrolling of Zuari river by Coastal Police and Fisheries Department to stop illegal trawling in Zuari river. SSF Guidelines too call for halt to Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated (IUU) fishing activities. SSF Guidelines enforcement are part of National Policy on Marine Fisheries 2017 via Article 54.

BMM also call upon all the fishing community leaders and organisations of Goa to organize group study sessions on SSF Guidelines as without study and awareness fishing community organisations in Goa are lacking in direction to move ahead towards liberation and decisive action against several threats to fisheries and livelihood of small scale fishing communities.

Thursday, 11 July 2019

BMM call for implementation of Voluntary Guidelines for Small Scale Fisheries


(Picture of the Press Conference addressed by Maggie Silveira, President, Bharat Mukti Morcha, Goa Unit accompanied by Kalpana Divkar, Parvati Narvekar, Roque Menezes, Socorro Braganza and Sebastiao Rodrigues) 

Bharat Mukti Morcha (BMM) calls for immediate implementation of ‘Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication’ (SSF Guidelines) in the State of Goa. SSF Guidelines were adopted formally by 143 member states of the United Nations including India in 2014 views those involved in small scale fishing communities all over the world with crucial role to restore, conserve, protect and co-manage local aquatic and Coastal Ecosystems (Para 5.5). Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) published these SSF Guidelines in 2015 advocates ecosystem approach towards Fisheries (Para 10.4).  Government of India included these SSF Guidelines in National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017 under Article 54 making SSF Guidelines applicable all over India. Goa is lacking in implementation.

BMM calls upon Government of Goa to implement the SSF Guidelines on urgency basis as Goa’s coast, rivers, inland fisheries are being battered badly and mismanaged deliberately thereby threatening very existence of fishing as livelihood option in near future. Due to lack of sensitivity our coast are getting squeezed and rivers are being grabbed due to commercial interests. 

SSF Guidelines has significant ingredients to turn the situation around in several aspects like secure tenure right to access to Sea and rivers (Para 5.1) that are often threatened due to tourism, casinos, marinas etc, harmonization of policies related to health of marine and inland water bodies involved in fisheries and agriculture (Para 10.3) that are threatened due to breach of bunds on Mandovi river banks leading to ingress of water and flooding of paddy fields in Divar and Vanxim islands, and several other parts of Goa, Calling of long term vision for sustainable small-scale fisheries (Para 10.4) that we lack in Goa as visible from declaration of Goa’s six rivers as National Waterways at the instance of mining, tourism and gambling industry. 

SSF Guidelines calls for defense of Human Rights of vulnerable and marginalized people and long term vision and policy framework for SSF(10.4); several fishing villages are erased and rendered invisible from the coastal management map that has been withdrawn last week by GCZMA demonstrates magnitude of attack on Goa’s Coast. SSF Guidelines seeks to address issue of Pollution, Coastal erosion and destruction of coastal habitats due to human inducted non-fisheries related factors (Para 9.3); Fishing in Mandovi has been disrupted due take over of river mouth by Gambling cartels for off-shore casinos, construction of three bridges including latest one without valid marine EIA has left huge amount of debris on river bed, cutting down of mangroves inside the river and installation of tourism activities at Divar Island has eroded significant fishing spaces for local fisher people, sand mining method allied by canoes destroys marine life, Water sports in Goa’s several rivers like Zuari, Mandovi and Chapora has negative impacts on fishing communities, Proposed dredging of Mandovi, Zuari etc under the pretext of passenger ferries will add further stress on rivers and fishing communities, Capital dredging of rivers is detrimental to fishing but has been pushed on by mining lobby from 2010. 

Pollution created by mining as well as mining barges is well recorded in the very first minutes of Goa State Pollution Control Board in 1988 as available in their website. SSF Guidelines calls for establishment and application of monitoring, control and surveillance suitable for SSF; there is need to set up marine radar to monitor illegal fishing in Zuari river by use of purse seine, trawl nets and other type of illegal fishing.

BMM calls upon Captain of Ports, Directorate of Fisheries, Goa State Pollution Control Board, Department of Tourism and Goa Coastal Zone Management Authority to integrate SSF Guidelines in coastal management on urgent basis. Coastal management can be achieved by making fishing communities visible by recognition and respect to the livelihood practices and food security mechanisms along with comprehensive defense of coast and river ecology.

Saturday, 29 June 2019

Press Statement in support of Rama Kankonkar and Arturo D’Souza

The undersigned organisations and individuals strongly condemns attempts of the State Government in collusion with vested interests to tag Rama Kankonkar and Arturo D’Souza - well known for their activities in defence of ecology and environment – based on letter inward at Agassaim Police Station. This fact came to light when few days ago Rama Kankonkar was called at the Agassaim Police Station after serving call letter. It is fundamental duty of every citizen of India to protect environment under Article 51-A(g) of the Constitution of India. However over the past few years Rama Kankonkar as well as Arturo D’Souza has been harassed and subjected to private violence making mockery of the law and order situation in Goa while engaged in task of environment protection especially with regard inclusion of PDAs to urbanise, protection of Chimbel lake from proposed IT park and movement to protect Bondvol lake at Santa Cruz village and get it recognise as Wetland. 

Both Arturo and Rama are also outspoken about the illegal fishing in Zuari River by use of trawl nets and purse seine nets and offered their support to traditional fishing community using Gill nets. Currently Rama and Arturo are contributing immensely towards study of Coastal Management Plan (CZM) that is to come up for Public Hearing on July 07, 2019, and creating awareness in different parts of Goa specially Tiswadi. Rama Kankonkar is also courageous to expose CRZ violations carried on the banks of Cumbharjua River by brother of Goa’s Revenue Minister Rohan Khaunte.

The undersigned organisations and individuals strongly condemn today afternoon’s act of violence on Rama Kankonkar’s private car parked at his residence in Curca suffering damage. This act of violence is carried on in order to instill fear and silence vibrant voice of Rama Kankonkar. This latest attack not only reflects growing frustration of the vested corporate interests out to destroy environment of Tiswadi Taluka but also collapse of the Law and Order machinery in the State of Goa. Goa’s Home Minister must resign immediately as he has failed to provide adequate security to Rama Kankonkar.

We pledge our support to Rama Kankonkar who is also the office bearer of GAKUVED and Arturo D’Souza till Justice is done, violence stops, Environment protected, ecology restored and urbanising trends reversed.

Show cause notice to Reliance Jio mobile tower at Tonk, Candola



Saturday, 22 June 2019

Coastal Regulation Zone Notification 2011

Here is the link to the Coastal Regulation Zone Regulation of 2011 popularly known as CRZ notification 2011. Under this notification currently public hearings are planned for July 07, 2019 for North Goa and South Goa and draft coastal management plan is prepared without consulting people of Goa. Guidelines for preparation of Coastal Zone Management Plans are available at Annexure 1 on Page 18. Please visit links below:


http://www.environmentwb.gov.in/pdf/wbsczma/CRZ-Notification-2011.pdf

Code Of Conduct For Responsible Fisheries

Code Of Conduct For Responsible Fisheries, 1995 was enacted as an further extension of chapter on fisheries in UN Convention on the laws of the Seas 1982. This Code of Conduct is the first attempt to induct ethics in fisheries practices. Here is the links to this Code of Conduct.

http://www.fao.org/3/a-v9878e.pdf


India's National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017

National Policy on Marine Fisheries, 2017 has included implementation of SSF guidelines as well as Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries 1995. Here is the link:

http://dahd.nic.in/sites/default/filess/National%20Policy%20on%20Marine%20Fisheries%202017_0.pdf

Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries

Voluntary Guidelines for Securing Sustainable Small-Scale Fisheries in the Context of Food Security and Poverty Eradication has been formulated over the period of many years and completed in 2015. India too was part of the formulating team. Here is link to this document that is Internationally known as "SSF Guidelines":

http://www.fao.org/3/a-i4356en.pdf


Fisheries related important linked documents

Fisheries related important linked documents:

1. Code of Conduct for Responsible Fisheries in 1995


2. To enforce Code of conduct SSF guidelines were enacted in 2015:





3. Both Code of Conduct and SSF guidelines are incorporated in India's National Marine Policy: 


4. Goa Fishing Laws:




5. Fisheries department directions: