Herald: Beware! The cops are on the prowl!
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Beware! The cops are on the prowl!

12 May 2015 11:12pm IST

Report by
Kishore Amati / Karsten Miranda

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12 May 2015 11:12pm IST

Report by
Kishore Amati / Karsten Miranda

Leave a comment

A short video taken by two foreign tourists recording a Goan traffic police asking them for a bribe has been making the rounds on social media. Café spoke to a few tourists –international and domestic – and discovered that, as embarrassing and shocking as it sounds, members of Goa Police have been extorting money from tourists in Goa

The incident was brought to light by Armstrong Vaz who shared a video on his Facebook page with the status reading, “Policeman caught on camera in Goa harassing foreign tourists”. Within a few hours, the video was shared close to 300 times, evoking strong reactions from the local residents. Various comments on the thread criticised both the police for harassing commuters and the trend of tourists driving without any documentation, while also congratulating the tourists for exposing the traffic police.

One of the comments on the thread, by Savio Glyn Pereira, said, “What these foreigners have done here, none of the Goans could do, I think. It's amazing how they exposed our system while we just sit here doing nothing.” Another person by the name of Zito Pereira commented, “I've heard the police saying in Konkani to pay him Rs 1000 and go. Greedy! On top of that he tells him to go and do the recording in his country. Remember in their country rules are abided by the people.” Calling for strict action, Joseph Cordeiro commented, “This policeman should be dismissed from job and all his benefits withdrawn which will be as a lesson to other policeman who might want to do the same.”

If it weren’t for the video, this unethical practice of the police probably wouldn’t have come to light. A couple of days ago, Pierre Freha, a French writer who was in Goa on vacation, underwent an incident he terms as embarrassing. While narrating his ordeal, Pierre says, “I was stopped by a bunch of policemen who were stopping bikes along the Siolim-Candolim road. I was carrying my international driving licence that allows me to drive cars. But before I could show the police officer the same, he confiscated my key. It seemed pre-planned. While showing him my licence, I tried to take my key back since there was no reason for him to keep it. He was already in the process of intimidating me. He then said that I would be summoned in Panjim and would face a fine of about Rs 5000. He asked me how much money I had. By chance, I had only Rs 600. Hearing the modest figure, he made a disgruntled face and asked me if I had more while telling me that dollars and pounds are also ok. He then threatened to keep my moped, which is a totally illegal move. I showed him my wallet to convince him that I truly did not have more than Rs 600 which I passed over to him. Quickly he gave the key and licence back to me without providing any ticket for the money he had extorted from me. It seems that things are not going to change too soon in Goa. We foreigners are not here to help the police have better wages. How many more of them are like this?”

While the above narration may seem shocking, what is worse is that the cops, apart from international tourists, have also been fleecing domestic tourists. Deepa Kumar, an MBA student from Noida, Delhi, recalls, “We were in Panjim, near Fontainhas. We had just finished dinner and we were going to our hotel in Panjim to rest, after a long day. However, when we were leaving, a police car patrolling the area stopped us and claimed we had been drinking. We had not, and then they asked us who we were and when we explained that we were MBA students, they started talking about how much we earn and then demanded that each of us pays Rs 5,000 for violating the drinking regulations. We refused to do so, following which, they threatened to take us to the police station and then tried to scare the girls, saying that they would call our parents and ask them if they knew they had been caught drinking in Goa with the boys. It got pretty ugly and as the girls were apprehensive that they would actually be forcefully taken to the police station, we paid Rs 1000 each (making it a total of Rs 6000) and walked away. We tried contacting a lawyer the next day but as we were on a short trip, we went back with memories of Goa that were ruined because of unethical cops.”

What’s in the video

In the video, the traffic police asks the two foreigners to show their 'international driving licence' and when the foreigners say that they can go to the hotel and collect their documents, the traffic police informs them that they have to pay a fine of Rs 2000. The traffic policeman also suggests that that they can pay Rs 1000 and the matter would be closed. When the foreigners ask him if he is asking for a bribe, the traffic policeman denies the charge and says that he is giving the fine in writing and thus it can't be a bribe. However, the traffic policeman loses his cool upon noticing that he is being recorded and yells at the tourists stating that they can't record him. In Konkani, the cop tells his colleague that the two tourists were trying to act smart and that now he would fine them and give them a challan. When the tourists who pretend to have switched off the camera protest and say that they would go to the police station to pay whatever fine was necessary as per the rule, the traffic policeman let them go and reprimand them again for trying to record them.

 

 “This is my second visit to Goa after 2 years and we stay at a small resort in Benaulim, renting a bike for our stay here. We stay here for 7-14 days and then head elsewhere. However, this time we were really shocked at the way we were spoken to by the traffic police who were simply trying to get money from us by hook or by crook. They kept asking us if we had foreign currency and that if we gave that to them they would not give us a fine. We finally had to call the person who gave us the bike; they were kind enough to come personally and sort the matter. We were proceeding towards Colva from Margao and were wearing helmets and not overspeeding or anything but you could make out that they stopped us only because we were foreigners. We could not make sense of the rules they were claiming we violated and it looked like they were taking us for a ride! I have studied in India on a student visa so I know a little bit about how it works, hence we refused to pay the bribe.” - Ronja Shwarz, 27, Germany

 

 

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