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'Poll panel raid on priest creating communal tension'

Friday February 10, 2012 09:42:35 PM, IANS

Panaji: Even as the Congress has accused the Election Commission of India (ECI) of inciting communalism in Goa, poll officials here have said that they only stuck to official guidelines when they raided a Catholic priest Tuesday, following an anonymous call.

"We have only acted as per the guidelines of the Election Commission of India (ECI) according to which we have to seize any amount of money found during a raid (on Tuesday)," Joint Chief Electoral Officer N.S. Navti told reporters here Friday.

Navti said that the raided parish priest of Velim, Romano Gonsalves, had met him along with the local legislator and Congress minister Filipe Neri Rodrigues. "The delegation has demanded an apology," Navti said, adding that the raiding party officials had stuck to the rule book.

On Thursday Rajya Sabha MP from the Congress Shantaram Naik, in a letter to Finance Minister Pranab Mukherjee, had said: "It is the duty of the Election Commission to prevent acts which may lead to communal tension. Instead, Election Commission/Chief Electoral Officer's act, unfortunately, may flare-up tension."

Newly appointed state Congress working president Francisco Sardinha also condemned the ECI action saying that "everybody today carries Rs.6,000 in their wallets".

On Tuesday Fr Romano Gonsalves was raided by a flying squad authorized by the Chief Electoral Officer (CEO), after an anonymous caller claimed that the priest was distributing money on behalf of a candidate.

The Income Tax officials attached to the squad recovered Rs.6,000 from the priest in course of the raid in Velim, 50 km from here.







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