PANJIM: As fires still burn in the cashew godown of the Adarsh society building, a steady stream of inputs from battleground Balli, increasingly suggest that events leading to the fire in the building and the death of two tribals must have been preplanned.
The earlier theory that disgruntled locals of Balli, angry that their businesses were being affected because of the tribal agitation had retaliated, wears thin. The nerve centre of the agitation, the Balli junction is exactly a kilometer away from Adarsh Society. According to reports, shopkeepers, traditional businessmen, did down their shutters and were preparing to open their shops and commence business the next day.
What actually strengthens this theory is the presence of rods, sticks and other sharp weapons which are still lying near the Adarsh Society building. These weapons could have been used to assault or break open doors. If this was a spontaneous retaliatory attack, these weapons would not have been found.
The manner in which the two bodies were lying, one on the ground floor right at the entrance of the cashew godown, and other on the second floor terrace, indicate that the victims were simply not trapped in the fire. The first body, lying slumped on heaps of cashew was very near the entrance. There was no reason why he could not have escaped.
They second body was found at the toilet on the second floor of the cashew godown. This was a relatively safe spot but became unsafe because the fire which was raging on the floor below spread to the top after some windows below were broken with stone pelting from the outside. But there too, the second person trapped could have escaped. What is alarming is that a lot of blood was seen next to the spot where this body was found. While it is too early to say that it belonged to the victim in the absence of forensic tests, the possibility of the victim being assaulted before he ran to the second floor to take shelter, can’t be ruled out.
While there are doubts over the efficiency of the police in gathering and documenting crucial evidence by conducting a proper panchnama, top echelons in the Government are embarrassed about the genuine delay in forces reaching Balli on the morning of the agitation. The DGP Aditya Arya was not traceable even by the Chief Secretary. The next in command IGP Sundari Nanda was asked by the Chief Secretary to move to Margao or Cuncolim to control operations from there. But in the absence of a senior officer in Panjim, she had to stay put. It was only in the afternoon the DGP managed to take charge. The truth from Balli may well be bloody. For the police, it is a big story of shame. - HD


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