Panaji, August 14
A day after the Navy said it has cancelled its event of hoisting the national flag at Sao Jacinto island in South Goa following objections by locals, which prompted Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to issue a warning to the islanders, it finally unfurled the tricolour there in the presence of some residents on the eve of the 75th Independence Day.
The flag hoisting was done as part of the Ministry of Defence’s initiative to unfurl the national flag on islands across the nation between August 13 and 15 under the ‘Azadi ka Amrit Mahotsav’ to commemorate 75 years of Independence.
However, there was confusion over when the flag hoisting on Sao Jacinto island would be held.
On Friday, the spokesperson of the Navy’s INS Hansa base near Dabolim in the state had said a team from the Goa Naval Area had visited the islands of the state, including Sao Jacinto, as part of the MoD’s pan-India initiative.
“However, the plan at Jacinto island had to be cancelled due to the objection by local residents,” he had said.
The residents of Sao Jacinto had made it clear that although they were not against the unfurling of the national flag, they were afraid that the Navy’s function could be the beginning of the central government taking over the island under the Major Ports Authorities Bill, 2020 in future.
Opposition by the local residents had prompted Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to issue a warning to them that “anti-India activities” would be dealt with an “iron fist”. He had also requested the Navy to go ahead with its scheduled programme.
The cancellation of the event due to the local residents’ opposition kicked up a row.
But the Navy finally hoisted the tricolour in the presence of some locals on Saturday afternoon after a “misunderstanding” with them cleared up.
“After a slight misunderstanding yesterday (August 13), a team of the Goa Naval Area and residents amicably participated in the National Flag hoisting at St Jacinto Island,” a statement issued by the naval spokesperson said.
The flag was hoisted around 2.45 pm on Saturday with the residents singing the national anthem along with the naval team during the event, he said.
Earlier in the day, CM Sawant had said that the flag would be hoisted at the island “at any cost” and assured full cooperation to the Navy from the Goa police for the event.
However, after the event was finally held, Sawant expressed happiness over it.
Posting a photo of the ceremony, the CM tweeted, “Heartening to see locals at St Jacinto Island joining the Indian Navy in hoisting the Indian Flag. I am glad, better sense prevailed. #JaiHind #NationFirst.”
Sao Jacinto island is located in South Goa, around 4 km from INS Hansa base. Approximately 100 families reside on the island.
Some local residents had earlier said they were worried that the Mormugao Port Trust might take over the island in future. PTI