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Floriano Vaz (From Archives)

Last Updated: 20 December '08

 The following article was written by Lionel Messias and was published in GT Weekender on 24 December 2006.  He recalls that Floriano Vaz was shot on 20 December 1986 by the police defending himself. Messias investigated the death in 1987.  The published story as it was written then.  Floriano Vaz died for a cause, namely for the recognition of Konknni.  But the entire Konknni community was taken for a ride by Devanagari proponents by manipulating the Official Language Bill in 1987. 

Pratap Naik, S.J.


Loinel Messias

I took a closer look at the killing of Floriano Vaz by head constable Rajaram G. Pawar (buckle No.273) of the Gujarat SRP and it was apparent the shooting of Vaz was as cold blooded as the attempts afterwards to hush it up.

On 20 December Sudin Bhagvanta Naique a businessman, found his way barred by a blockade outside Margao.   An altercation ensued between him and his ex-employee Vaz.  Around noon Jose Francisco Gomes from the neighbourhood heard a single gun shot and ran towards the cluster of three houses belonging to the Vaz clan.  He saw Vaz fallen and bleeding from a stomach wound.  The vehicle driven by Sudin Naique was parked on the road, besides a SRP van.

Hours later, the Margao police issued two official versions describing the shooting.  The first said Vaz and three others pinned down assistant Sub-Inspector Narayan K Yetale of the Goa police and tried to snatch his service revolver.  The accompanying SRP fired, hitting Vaz. 

The second version claimed a violent mob of 400-500 attacked the police, who fired in self-defence hitting Vaz.

I learnt from the official sources that Vaz was shot with a 303 rifle at exactly 1320 hours.  He died at 1600 hours from haemorhage and shock from a bullet wound "fatal in the ordinary course of nature."

The cover-up was sloppy to the extent Vaz and "400-500" others were charged under Cr. No 444/86 u/s 341, 143, 147,  148, 323, 353, 332, 307 of the IPC r/w 149 IPC for attacking the police, setting up road blocks and snatching service weapons.  The inquest panchanama conducted at the hospital between 1900-1930 hrs. recorded "no external injuries on the body."  To support this, a line was added: "The body was turned and excepting the bandaged part (bullet wound) no other injuries were seen." (According to rule even bandages must be opened before the panchas.)

A source said no panchanamma was conducted.  On the contrary, the deputy collector and station police inspector were summoned by the inspector the next day to witness the injuries.  The inspection took place after the post mortem was completed and before the autopsy began.

I discovered the body bore 15 marks caused by a blunt weapon, possibly a police lathi.  The longest a 23.5x3 cm ridge underneath the right hand forearm implies the defensive posture of Vaz, as he shielded himself from the lathi hits.  There are weal marks on both forearms.  The rest (21, 5, 18, 18, 10, 5, 9, 8, 8, 7, 6, 5,5,5, 4 &3cms. In length) proved Vaz was badly trashed.

The post mortem report the police refused to divulge records this.  The spent cartridge and fallen helmet and handed over to the police and receipts obtained.  Vaz's family swears Sudin Naique promised to return with the police and "teach Vaz a lesson."  The fact, he drove to the station and returned with a 22 men posse was confirmed by the police. It is known too the ASI and at least two others in uniform arrived at the roadblock in Naique's car.

The family has consistently said the police arrived on the scene, inquired about Vaz at the first two houses and after discovering him inside the third, dragged him from the outhouse and assaulted him.  A younger sister begged the ASI to arrest him instead but was yanked away from her fallen brother.  In the melee, a protective helmet fell to the ground.  Vaz was shot from handshaking distance as he defended himself fallen, and this is how the single spent bullet was not lost in the sandy soil or trampled under foot by the mob alleged to have been there.

The ASI later feigned injury but refused to be x-rayed at the government hospital.  He relented only when the medical officer on duty insisted. It proved nothing. The magisterial inquiry (the family demanded a judicial inquiry) must ask these questions. Why did the police clear a little used village road, when armed rescue patrols in the words of the inspector-general of police could not reach in time two ministers' homes ransacked by mobs?

The area has less than 100 residents living within 500 mt radius. Where did the 400-500 strong mob gather force? If the mob stoned the police, why was only Vaz living 64 mt from the blockade singled out? There were bloodstains inside the small enclosure of the tiny outhouse where he was shot, but no telltale signs of a rampaging mob, not even a cracked roof tile!

How could a violent mob confine itself to an area three small houses, find sufficient space to hurl stones and leave the place3d unscathed? If, as the police alleged, it was sent to clear the blockade why did the two vehicles stop outside the Vaz household?

If Vaz was shot while attacking the police, why was he thrashed and shot from above (the bullet entered his body a few centimeters to the right of his navel and exited through his pelvic bone)? His clothes prove this. The bullet's passage implies Vaz was on the ground when the rifle held at a 45-degree angle was fired. If there was a mob, why did they not stone the police vehicles as mob do?

Finally, if as the station reports claims, the entire incident occurred between 13.05 - 13.20 hrs, does it not suggest that ISI Narayan K Yetale was dispatched on a specific mission that miss-fired?  That night, a fishnet factory belonging to the Naique family was gutted by fire.  The next day Bhagavanta Naik offered MLAs Uday Bhembre and Luizinho Faleiro at the latter's home Rs 20,000 for the Vaz family as atonement. The same evening another fishnet factory was reduced to ashes. This time the Naiques stayed at home. 



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