Goa beach village bans migrants from running businesses


Panaji, Oct 21 (IANS): Residents of a beach village in South Goa, formally resolved to ban migrants from traditional and tourism-centric businesses in the village jurisdiction citing lack of business opportunities for local youth and law and order issues.

A resolution passed on Sunday, by the Gram Sabha of Cana Benaulim village Panchayat, which has been the centre of simmering tension between the local residents and migrants, for several weeks, has also resolved to ban granting of licenses to migrants for running businesses ranging from fishing to running of restaurants.

"That the interest of locals in traditional coastal occupations and services like fishing, shack operations, tourist taxi operations, garment and jewellery business, salons and massage parlours, restaurant business, etc., should be protected and others should not be allowed to run these activities, directly or indirectly," the resolution said.

"That the illegal activities carried on by the migrants, like drug peddling, prostitution and criminal intimidation must be investigated by the law enforcing authorities and the persons responsible should be booked under relevant sections of the Indian Penal Code," the document also read.

The tussle between local residents and migrants, more specifically the members of the traditionally nomadic Banjara community, started in December last year, but caught momentum just ahead of the state's ongoing international tourism season which began in October.

A taxi service operated by a member of the nomadic community, allegedly in contravention of norms, was the trigger leading to the conflict, following which the locals are now refusing to allow Banjaras to conduct their business in the village jurisdiction.

Last year, the Cana Benaulim village Panchayat had also resolved to ban Banjaras from carrying out business activities in its jurisdiction following the taxi service controversy.

Sunday's resolution claims increased in-migration has led to change in the village's demography and placed a burden on its limited infrastructure.

The very identity of a Goan is at risk.This uncontrolled migration must be checked immediately through lawful means by the Panchayat and the Government of Goa on the whole," the resolution reads, while also accusing migrants of allegedly indulging in illegal activities.

Banjaras are mostly involved in the seasonal tourism trade, selling trinkets and handmade clothes along the coastline to tourists. Including the thousands of descendants of Banjaras who have settled in Goa over decades and their floating population, there are nearly 1.5 lakh members of the Banjara Samaj in Goa, which includes the Lamani sub tribe according to Suresh Rajput president of the Goa Banjara Samaj.

"The locals from Benaulim think we are against them and are taking away their business. But no one wants to go against the local people. We do not want to do business by upsetting local customs. But this incident is unfortunate because it started with one taxi operator. And now others from the community are being made a scapegoat," Rajput said.

  

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