Tourist Security in Goa: It is Time to Wake Up

Tourist Security in Goa: It is Time to Wake Up 

      Today as ever, bad news travels faster and gains more embellishments and gory details with every telling. Instant coverage, repetitious coverage of unsavory incidents with pointedly sickening language and visuals render incidents with a life of their own.   

        Even though as per official statistics the number of rape and murder cases in Goa have shown a decline in the last four years even though  the number of tourists and floating population have increased many times over, incidents involving safety of tourists bring on negative publicity far beyond their numbers.

         The latest incident of Scarlett Keeling, a British teenager whose body was found on the beach in Goa has been added to the list of tragic incidents that have marred the tourist circuit in India. The sad fact is that the Goa police who claim  “Improving police – community relations is another thrust area…..This can happen only if we are able to perform not only on the law & order and crime front, but also in our public dealings by our helpful and sympathetic behavior towards people who come to us in their moment of distress. ……..Cases where women, children and the elderly are victims of crime should always receive our prompt attention” did not respond appropriately in the Scarlett Keeling case. 

        The actions of the local police to brush under the carpet what was obviously a homicide have not helped. Insistence by the mother of the victim who claimed her daughter was raped and murdered and demanded a second autopsy was casually brushed aside by the local police.

         It was under great pressure from the media, UK and New Delhi that the second autopsy has been performed, and the autopsy proves that the contention of the mother was right, her daughter’s end did not come through suicide but was due to violence. 

        Goa seems to be losing its lusture and is no more a pristine tourist paradise it once was. Is it reverting to the bad phase of hippies, drugs and overdoses coupled with violence?Today the hippies are not there but the availability of drugs appears to be on the increase.

        According to one report three foreign tourists have died of drug overdose in the last one week. While this may be dismissed as self induced aberrations by a few psychotic individuals, what cannot be wished away is the presence of Mafia and incidents of, rape, and murder. Add to this the sickening reports of pedophilia, practiced openly. (Seven cases of pedophilia involving tourists are in the courts). 

      Goa has received over 30,000 tourists from abroad every month in the last four months. Of course Indians are there in much larger numbers with their families especially during school holidays and long week ends.

       The numbers are not many, as foreign beach resorts attract many more.  Before the Tsunami struck Phuket in Thailand there were over forty five star hotels and attracted over 200,000 tourists every month.  

       Families, men women and children, come to Goa, to its famed beaches and tonne of bright sunshine, a free carnival atmosphere and a feeling of freedom. Indian authorities  cannot  afford any  relaxation in maintaining the atmosphere of tranquility and feeling of security for its tourist guests either local or from far off lands.  

       The fact that the Chief Minister of Goa has pledged to follow the case personally is welcome. What is more welcome is the semblance of acknowledgement of an existing problem of security for tourists from the ministry of tourism and the central government. 

        The Government of Goa must wake up.

      The proposals for a special police taskforce for tourists should be implemented in the right spirit immediately.

      Additional patrolling on the beaches especially after dark should be taken up seriously by the Goa Police.

      Goa police must live up to its own set goals to earn the confidence of the public.