Event though it is futile fight, if you wish to contribute towards the legal expenses of seby you can do so here
Herald, January 13, 2009
Venita Coelho in her Accidental Activist Column
As I write this article I am really angry. I hate bullies. And if ever there was a Goliath versus David fight, it’s Fomento versus Seby. Fomento has struck back, with no less than a Rs. 500 crore defamation suit against him. That too filed in Kolkata, so that poor Seby will have to travel back and forth endlessly and at major expense.
Why Kolkata? Because it is the only High Court where you don’t have to deposit a percentage of the amount you are suing for. Fomento claims its good name is worth 500 crore. And what exactly are the forests and lands of Goa worth? What is the devastation wrought by mining worth? What about Seby’s good name when Sujay Gupta sought to label him a ‘naxalite’ on behalf of his mining company? The figure of Rs.500 crore is no doubt meant to inspire ‘shock and awe’. And to serve to scare off any other activists who might want to raise their voices.
Fomento - " All your ore belongs to us "
As activists get louder and more effective, the tactics being used against them are becoming more hardline. Across Goa, villagers are fining themselves facing combined maliciousness of both the state and interested parties. They have found themselves harassed by panchayats, slapped with criminal cases and picked up by the police. The fight is getting dirtier. As the stakes rise, activists are forced to ask themselves: “Is it worth it?”
That’s a question I faced after I was carted off to the police station. As a single mother, the sole earning member of the family, what the hell was I doing tangling with the powers that be? I had to take a long hard look at my accidental activism and acknowledge that so, it had taken loads of my time. Now it was going to take an emotional and mental toll and threaten my safely. Was it worth it?
The answer is yes, and YES. This is my home. This is the place I chose to put down roots. If I let this be devastated where else is there to go to? That holds true for all of you out there as well. And that brings me to the second thing that I am mad about.
This Sunday, we organised a meeting to understand the Regional Plan for Attofondem ward in Moira. The ward member went door to door inviting people. Exactly 20 turned up. It has been the same story for all the meetings that we have done so far. The apathy is appalling. The future of entire village is at stake – and no one seems to care.
And you reading this article? I’m damn mad at you as well. Forget standing up to mining. Right now – right this very moment – is a huge chance to define the future of the village you live in. Are you doing anything about it? Have you bothered to find out about the Regional Plan? Have you filled in the Questionnaire? Or are you content to sit back and let ‘those activists’ do it all for you. And when those activists face the brunt, do you bother to stand up for them?
Seby needs all the support and help he can get. His is a legitimate voice, speaking up against the devastation of your land. It is your fight that he is fronting – and paying the price for. If you allow him to be bullied and punished by a mining company for speaking up, then there is not much to be said for the future of Goa. All of us might just as well stay silent and watch while the land around us is reduced to raw wastes by mining, or concrete jungles by builders.
Online, there is an effort to gather people who are willing to add their names to the defamation suit; who support Seby and are saying: “So sue me too!” You can sign up too, as soon as it is set up. Watch this space!