Following public pressure, the Indian Navy on Friday cancelled a flag hoisting ceremony on St. Jacinto island in South Goa, amid accusations from local villagers and politicians who alleged a government plot for a ‘takeover of the island.
“As part of ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ to commemorate 75 years of Independence, (the) Ministry of Defence has planned unfurling of National Flag in Islands across the nation between 13 and 15 Aug, 21. A team from Goa Naval Area visited islands of Goa including Sao Jacinto Island as part of this pan India initiative,” the Indian Navy said in a statement on Friday.
“However, the plan at Jacinto Island had to be cancelled as the same was objected to by the residents. This initiative was taken nationwide to instil a sense of patriotism and celebrate the run-upto the 75th year of independence,” the statement said.
Earlier on Friday, villagers, led by state Nationalist Congress Party president Jose Phillip D’Souza, gathered in the church square on the island to protest against the flag hoisting ceremony planned by the naval authorities.
“Navy officers came here and they said that they will hoist the flag on August 15. I want to say that whether they are from the Navy, government or any private company, we do not give this right to anyone (to hoist a national flag). The villagers are united against this. If the Navy, state and central government try to capture our island, then local villagers will never allow this,” D’Souza said.
Residents of St. Jacinto island also said that no formal permission had been sought by the naval authorities from the local authorities to conduct the flag-hoisting ceremony.