A local court today directed police to book Panaji Mayor Surendra Furtado and six others, two of them journalists, in connection with an incident where a de-weeding machine he had climbed on during a demonstration in a creek turned turtle due to overloading.
Judicial Magistrate First Class (JMFC) Pooja Kavlekar, acting on a complaint, asked police to file an FIR against them and complete the probe into the June 26 incident within two months.
Furtado, who was on-board the de-weeding machine fitted on a boat deployed to clean the St Inez creek, had fallen in the water when the vessel capsized apparently due to overloading.
Two journalists were also part of the group that had boarded the machine. The Mayor was explaining the use of the machine and media persons were invited to cover the demonstration in the creek, a water body running through the capital city.
Social activist Aires Rodrigues had filed a formal police complaint against Furtado. However, when police did not register an FIR, he approached JMFC.
Rodrigues, in the petition filed before JMFC, had alleged that police were shielding the Mayor because he was politically well-connected. The activist sought a court order to police for registering an FIR in connection with the incident.
Maintaining that a major man-made tragedy was averted, the activist told the court that the Mayor ignored the advice of MLA Jennifer Monseratte as well as the machine operator not to board the vessel.