Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Tribute to Manjula Gawde

On 26 th November 2004 Manjula Gawde Sattari, breathed her last in Goa Medical College, Bambolim, after 22 days of relentless struggle to survive. And as soon as she was declared dead the hell broke loose. Villagers rose up in arms and her body was unceremoniuosly half burned amids scuffles and police interventions on the very next day. The uproar over her death continues. Newspapers continues to bring the stories, politicians continue to take advantage of the situations, Police cases have been filed against the villagers and even arrested, yet the murderers of Manjula Gawde has not been arrested though who the murderers of Manjula Gawde is the common knowledge. Oh! Police believe it is the case of sucide!

Manjula Gawde (18) was beaten up with injuries by the her employer Vinita Savaiker (A cloth vendor married to pigmy collector Sanjay Savoiker) along with her family members including her father-in-law Krishna Savaikar on 4th November 2004. Vinita has been bonded in the exploitative employment in as the domestic worker- as house cleaner and cloth washer at Rs.200/- (Rupees two hundred only!) per month or Rs.6/- (Rupees Six Only) per day for the past two years. Actually she had collected only Rs.600/- over this period. At around 5.00 pm. Vinita Savoiker, the employer of the Manjula Gawde strated beating her up with dog chains, wooden sticks and of course the kicks and slaps. (Though the findings of the post mortem report is yet to be astained, her dead body possed black marks of torture on her chest and tremendous swelling at the vaginal area). Vinita while beating up Manjula was houling "I will never be at peace till manjula is dead". Manjula's mother too who was present was not only beaten up (by banging her to the pole) along with Manjula but was also threaten at the gun point by Krishna Sawaikar (father-in-law who posseses licenced gun) that in case she informs the villagers or the Police then she will be shot dead. (This is the fear which kept Kasturi from informing the villagers about the beating up incident till her daughters' death 22days latter!)

After mercilessly beating up Manjula Gawde, she was thrown into the middle of Beetlenut Orchard (owned by Savoiker family) where she was forced to drink liquid Pesticides that was used to spray in the plantations. (Savaikar family owns huge plantations- Kulagar at Bhatwadi, Advai, forest property in Mhadei of Cashew plantations, property at Kumbarkhand, Vagurem and Savaiker Industries). Here Manjula spoke her last few words to her Mother "Ayee maka Chau dili punn mhaka ti bori lagunk nam" ( Mom, I was given tea to drink but it din't taste good). The reasons for the wrath of Savaikar family is not difficult to understand. Manjula is not the first girl to be mudered in this fashion in the last few months. There is line of Girls Murdered- Tanuja Naik, Anjana Shirodker, Maria Vaz... the common factor being that they all belonged to vulnerable sections of society where mega irrisponsibility galore; injustice and fear all pervasive.
After beating up, Manjula was dropped near the residence of Gawade family who leaves in the forest in small 4 by 5 mud house with no property of their own but 3 genetically affected either deaf and dump or both family member. At this point Manjula's father Chandru Gawde was beaten up by the Savaiker family and warned him to shut his mouth about beating up of his daughter.The Gawde family was ordered to give salt water by Savaiker family and then take her to on Dr. Amsheker, private practitioner at Valpoi in his private clinic. After treating Dr.Amsheker reffered her to be admitted to the Goa Medical College on 19th november 2004- after complete two weeks. In between she was also given treatment by another medical practitioner in Margao on the advice of Dr.Amshekar.

In glaring incident of travasty of justice Police has been siding with the murderers of Manjula. After the mob of around 1000 people burnt the body in front of the house of Manjula Gawde, the next day instead of investigating the perpetators of violence, police arrested Manjula's brother Rajesh and her Mother Katuri along with the villager Bablo Gawde; stripped them of their clothes in the lock up except their underwears (excluding Kasturi) and were kept hungry without lunch and dinner. NEST denounces this action of Police. Further Police has slapped criminal cases against 16 villagers on some fictitious charges like assault on Police arrested and released them. (Around 1000 people had battled the police on 27th November 2004, why the cases only on 16 people? To create situation of fear in democratic India?) But cases has not been withrawn. NEST demads the immediate withrawl of cases against all followimg 16 people. They are Suresh Gawde, Manisha Gawde (Manjula's Sister), Krishna A. Gawde, Bhagwant Babli Gawde, Prakash K. Vantekar, Naru Ramnath Gawde, Ranganath k. Gawde, Gurudas P.Gawde, Umesh P.Gawde (minor), Prashant P. Gawde (Minor), Amresh Anant Gawde (Minor), Vishnu Shankar Gawde, Bablo H.Advaikar, Kasturi Chandru Gawde (Manjula's Mother) Vishnu Sazu Gawde and Rajesh Chandru Gawde (Manjula's Brother).

The police are raiding the house of Manjula Gawde- on the average every third day. NEST demands immidiate halt to the already shocked family of Manjula Gawde. While Savoikar family has been enjoying armed police protection since 27th November 2004. NEST appriciate the efforts of the villagers to organise against the Police Raj of the facist regime in Goa which goes by personal loyalies and class interests of bourgousie and feudal barons of Goa like the savoiker family. NEST specially applauds marvalous efforts of yougster Sushma Vantekar in bringing about unity and consciusness about democratic right of the citizens.

NEST 10 member team offered solidarity and encouragement to the Vantem villagers and the Manjula's family on 25th December 2004, 1st and 2nd January 2005. Goa State of course had no time. Earlier it was busy in organising IFFI in 2004. Now it is Busy planning IFFI for 2005- of course advance planning helps. This speaks volumes for the defence and safety of women in Goa. Manjula Gawde was an adivasi girl belonging to Gawda tribe.

Sebastian Rodrigues
January 2005

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