Poverty stricken activists fight the good fight for Goa

April 3, 2017
sudeepSUDEEP DALVI |  When myself, Rajkumar Walavalkar and Father Bismarque filed our first Public Interest Litigation (PIL) against the Government of Goa and Archaeological Survey of India, we were a penniless lot. I wanted to raise funds from among my friends, but our advocate Nigel Da Costa Frias saved the day by accepting to represent us pro bono, i.e. free of charges.
We were so poor and poverty stricken that we didn’t even have money to pay for our stationary and printing charges. Borrowing money from my mother, we somehow managed to make it. Even today, the money spent by Nigel bab’s office on documentation is awaiting reembursement  as it was then.
When we used to go to the High Court for hearings, I used to take Rajkumar along with me on my bike to save the expenses of fuel. Father Bismarque used to come on his Hero Honda all the way from St. Estevam.
After the hearing, it usually used to happen that one or two known faces greeted us in the corridors of the Court and with no second thought, Father Bismarque would candidly asked them to join him along with myself and Rajkumar over a cup of tea.
This was a situation that I hated and always wanted to avoid, as all three of us were totally empty pocketed and suffering from utter penury. But will Father listen or understand this irony? His large hearted nature didn’t allow him to go further without taking three or four of his acquaintances for a cup of tea and bhajji pao to the court canteen or Kamat Hotel down near the church. It was very embarrassing for me when understanding our situation and without anything said or heard, our guests used to clear off the bills which were supposed to be paid by us.
The case ran for nearly three months and the same judge who today is hearing the case regarding his murder, was then hearing our Public Interest Litigation.
The matter ended in a negative order for us as our arguments got rejected by the judge. The Government won and we lost.  But the time spent together in preparing the case brought me and Father Bismarque much more closer than we were ever earlier.
Poverty has its virtues. And being in company of a virtuous person has still more virtues of its own.
Today, when I look towards the amount of expenditure that activists (including myself and my friends) incur in propagation of various environmental and social causes, be it on printing of leaflets and pamphlets, in floating of a carnival float or on printing banners and posters before an agitation, I get reminded in my mind of our first struggle, a struggle given to the mighty State Government by a people with penniless pockets, but lion like mighty hearts.

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