Goa Crime Branch to probe mysterious death of activist-priest

Panaji, Nov 19 (IANS) Goa Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar on Thursday said the police Crime Branch will probe the mysterious death of activist-priest Bismarque Dias, which has led to massive criticism of the government.

“Right from the beginning, I had asked police to investigate the angle of foul play. He (Dias) was an activist, so perhaps there was a chance that he was attacked,” Parsekar told reporters on the sidelines of a media event in Panaji.

“Since there are demands from several people that the case should be handed over to the Crime Branch for a fair and thorough investigation, I have done so,” he said.

“Even before doubts were raised about the investigation, I had asked police to explore the foul play angle because he was an activist and there was a possibility that he was attacked.

“Since then, there have been several demands that the case be moved away from the Old Goa police. In order that there is no doubt over how the case is being handled, we have decided to hand it over to the crime branch,” Parsekar said.

The body of Dias — who was leading a string of agitations against controversial real estate projects across Goa — was found on November 7 along the Mandovi river, leading to protests across the state by civil society outfits and the opposition.

While the case, registered as an unnatural death, will be handed over to the Crime Branch, senior officials like Deputy Inspector General of Police V. Renganathan maintained that the initial probe had not found enough evidence to suggest that the priest had been murdered.

On November 16, the case got a fresh twist after a singlet, with traces of blood on it, belonging to the priest was found a small distance away from the site where his body was recovered from the water.

Dias’s kin, friends and opposition parties had been demanding a more focused investigation into the death, while ruling Bharatiya Janata Party legislator Vishnu Wagh had also sought a probe by the special investigation team.

“The Crime Branch has been asked to spare no effort in investigating every angle which the case throws up,” Parsekar said, even as friends and kin of Dias threatened to protest at the site of the International Film Festival of India, which gets underway on Friday.

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