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Mining stir: Police baton charge protesters

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Panaji, Mar 19 (PTI) The police today baton charged mining workers who had laid siege to two gateway bridges to Panaji in a bid to march into the city to protest against the iron ore extraction ban in the state.

BJP MLA Nilesh Cabral from Curchorem constituency in South Goa district along with some other protestors were injured in the lathicharge, a senior police official said.

"As the protesters refused to clear the bridges and the attempts to work out an amicable solution failed, the lathicharge was ordered by the district administration," said the official, present at the trouble spot for crowd control.

Cabral also suffered a minor injury in the melee, the official said adding some other people too were injured.

"Cabral had a minor injury, it was not major. He had gone to pacify the crowd," state agriculture minister Vijai Sardesai told PTI.

The state government's efforts earlier to convince protesters to clear the two twin bridges across the Mandovi river near Panaji city, had turned futile.

State ministers, including Sudin Dhavalikar, Vijai Sardesai, Jayesh Salgaoncar and others, tried to pacify the protesters, but they refused to listen to them.

Thousands of mining and allied industry workers had gathered in the morning at the Kadamba bus stand at the city's entrance to launch their protest.

As they wanted to march through the city, District Collector Nila Mohanan refused permission for it.

The angry protesters then blocked the two bridges and stopped the city-bound traffic.

State transport minister Sudin Dhavalikar, who too had arrived at the spot, assured the protesters that a solution would be thrashed out.

In an appeal to the protestors to vacate the bridges, he said the state government was trying all possible means to ensure that mining resumes in the state.

The protesters, however, continued to sit on the bridges.

The efforts of minister Sardesai to convince the crowd to move out, too did not yield any response.

He asked them to move their agitation to the Azad Maidan in the city so that people are not put to inconvenience, but they refused.

The people, who had come from different villages of the iron ore-rich mining belt of both the North and South Goa districts, were protesting against the closure of the mining industry since March 16, following a Supreme Court order.

The members of the various truckers' associations and those from the shipping and mining machinery sectors were participating in the protest.

The state's five-decade-old mining industry has come to a grinding halt since Friday with a Supreme Court order banning iron ore extraction.

The mining and tourism industries are the key revenue earners for the coastal state.

The apex court had last month quashed the second renewal of iron ore mining leases given to 88 companies in Goa in 2015. It had set March 15 as deadline for the miners to manage their affairs.

This is the second upheaval in the industry which had faced a closure in 2012 too, following an SC directive.

The industry stakeholders, including the truck owners and ship operators, are trying to persuade the state and the Centre for resumption of the mining activities.

Union minister Gadkari is scheduled to visit Goa later today to hold talks with the state government and various other industry stake-holders over the crisis. PTI RPS GK RAX SMN

Disclaimer: This story has not been edited by BW staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.


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