Published: 22nd June 2021
Drop criminal cases against academic topper who protested against IIT Goa, Congress urges Goa government
Melekar was one of the nearly two dozen residents of Shel-Melaulim, a village which was a proposed site for the Indian Institute of Technology-Goa campus
The Goa Leader of Opposition Digambar Kamat on Tuesday urged the state government to withdraw criminal cases filed against Puja Melekar, a third-year BSc (TYBSC) student, who topped the Goa University in the final exams of Analytical Chemistry in the last academic year.
Melekar was one of the nearly two dozen residents of Shel-Melaulim, a village that was a proposed site for the Indian Institute of Technology-Goa campus, who was booked during the protests against the project.
"It is a matter of pride for all of us on the outstanding performance of the brave girl Puja Melekar of Shel-Melaulim who stood first in Goa University securing the highest marks in Analytical Chemistry at TYBSC examination. I urge the Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to withdraw all the cases filed against her and others during their protest against the IIT project at Shel-Melaulim," Kamat said.
In January this year, the Goa government was forced to scrap the IIT-Goa campus at Shel-Melaulim village, after sustained protests from villagers, who had accused the state government of orchestrating a land scam in the name of the project, while also objecting to hasty land acquisition procedures which were put in place to acquire 10 lakh square metres for the campus.
The protests peaked in January, resulting in some incidents of violence, for which several dozen protestors, including Puja Melekar, were booked. The Goa government has refused to withdraw the criminal cases, including those of attempt to murder, filed against the residents, following a stand-off with the police.
Kamat, a former Congress Chief Minister, claimed that the withdrawal of criminal cases against Melekar and others would inspire local residents of the village to aspire better in the field of academics.
"The action of the government will be the best gift to the young girl for her success and will also encourage others to work hard in academics and at the same time be the warriors to protect the environment, forest and identity of Goa," Kamat said, adding that Melekar was only protecting cultivable land in her village, which was being acquired for setting up an IIT campus.