In the month of February earlier this year, as reported in the Herald, the news of a migrant Mallappa Masmardi changing his name to Mark Mascarenhas went viral on social media giving a rise to a speculations on the issue of threat to Goan identity due to the frequency in which the migrants changing their names in Goa. Public notices of these name changes keep appearing in the newspaper on a daily basis.
At that point of time, Curtorim MLA Aleixo Reginaldo Lourenco has raised an important question. ” Why migrants, who have made Goa their home, are adopting Goan names? The purchase of properties is acceptable, but the change of name is questionable,” he queried. What he had pointed out is that a change in name is not merely a change in a document rather it results in an identity change giving the person access to past records of a person by that name.
”A section of the people changing their names could be doing so to take over properties wherein the Form I&XIV there are names which are similar to the new name selected by the person,” he added.
According to La Croix, every year on an average 500 Goan people change their given names or surnames, but correspondingly over 1600 names are illegally changed. While a change in name happens generally after marriage or in special circumstances when a person might perhaps want to rectify, migrants change not only their surnames but names as well. In fact, they change all their names to Goan names. The Change of Name and Surname Act 1990 stipulates that names and surnames can be changed in Goa only if the applicants are born here.
According to the Herald, Revolutionary Goans have brought this issue to the notice number of times. However, as the number of migrants applying to change and changing their names, keeps increasing, they have now demanded an amendment to the Goa Change of Name and Surname Act of 1990 to stem this.
“There is definitely a sinister plan here. It goes without saying and if we are not vigilant and let this continue, our own Goan brothers and sisters will be the ones to lose,” warned founder Manoj Parab, adding that the existing law is being misused in such a manner that they can then obtain caste certificates, avail of government schemes, college admissions and even government jobs and more importantly land grabbing.
Citing one such instance, Parab stated, “Migrants have changed their names or are changing their names to the name of the owner of the land, who have no heirs or whose children have moved abroad and not returned for years and in those years the parents may have passed away. They then forge signatures with the help of some underhand bureaucrats or officials and procure a copy of the land paper. They then proceed to sell the land, without anyone’s knowledge.”
This is particularly true in the case of a non-Goan woman which came to light about three years ago. A tenant in the house of an elderly couple in Benaulim, she nevertheless made them her legal parents. She then obtained a birth certificate, a driving license, registered her marriage and applied for Portuguese citizenship. The unsuspecting elderly couple learned of this only when they saw her marriage certificate. Complaints were then filed.
The change in name Parab pointed out gives these migrants a license to become Niz Goenkar, without raising any suspicion and enjoy all benefits and schemes afforded to the Goans by the State government.
An amendment in the act is sought to change this. “Revolutionary Goans will be submitting a Private Member Bill for amendment of Goa Change of Name and Surname Act of 1990. We want that only persons of Goan origin (POGO) are allowed to change the name and surname. Secondly, in case of a minor, the parent or guardian, who is a POGO, should submit the application. And if a woman, who is not a POGO, is married to a POGO then she is allowed to change the name and surname. We demand this amendment be passed during the forthcoming Assembly session,” stated Parab.
In the light of all that has been happening in the ‘name’ of name changes, the government needs to act fast to avert any further malpractices by these migrants by Goas forfeit their just rights.