A day after the Deputy Speaker had a word of advice to the police in the State, telling them not to concentrate only on helmetless riders, but extend their services to protect and safeguard the residents of Goa, and particularly mentioned mangalsutra snatching in his comments, there was another such crime committed in the State. A woman’s mangalsutra and earrings were snatched on Thursday by three men in a car at Dharbandora, quite a distance away from the constituency of the Dy Speaker, who had said there were three such acts in the village of Parra. Such thefts don’t appear to have abated, and recent incidents do raise the question of how effective is policing in the State.
The sentiments of the Deputy Speaker were echoed at Dharbandora and Ponda, by the people who, after the latest incident of mangalsutra snatching, demanded that the police should focus on detecting and controlling crimes. They too claimed that the police are seen to be busy in issuing challans to two-wheeler riders who do not wear helmets, while thieves are stealing from women walking on the roads in daytime.
Interestingly, Goa Police last year recorded an impressive performance with statistics showing a significant decline in overall crimes that dropped by 8.26 percent, while it was a 15.43 percent drop in heinous crime and 21 percent in rape cases for the year. Taking credit for keeping the law and order situation under control, the Director General of Police had listed a few of the major breakthroughs of the police, including the arrest of the accused in the gruesome Betalbatim rape case, and in the Canacona rape of the British tourist. What remained unsaid was that the main accused in the Betalbatim rape case escaped while under arrest and when undergoing treatment at a government hospital, and even two months later is out on the loose as he has not been held.
Yet, statistics apart, 2018 wasn’t the best of years for the policemen in the State, for statistics do not always tell the complete story. The department last year faced the wrath of certain sections of the community when two local youth, in separate incidents, were assaulted by police personnel in public. In one case a football fan was assaulted in full view of the crowd gathered for the match at the Fatorda stadium, and in another an NRI was assaulted in Cuncolim. The offending policemen in both cases were suspended, and face departmental action. Against this background, the statements made by the Calangute MLA do stand the test of reason.
So, is policing in the State really effective? Or are there lapses that require to be plugged? The Deputy Speaker had a rather unconventional explanation for the police failure, but one that has been proffered in the past few months quite often in the State. He said that with the CM being out of station (he is now back in Goa) and without his directions the police in Goa are ‘doing what they want which I think is wrong’. While this indicts the government, it is yet another admission of the failure of governance that many other ministers and MLAs, including the Deputy Speaker, had spoken of in the past.
The safety of women on the streets is as important as the wearing of helmets by two-wheeler riders. The police have to instill a sense of security in the people, especially women, rather than being looked upon as only being out on the streets to catch helmetless riders. This should not be the case, though a rider not using a helmet is also breaking the law and has to be dealt with. But the priority of the police force has to be keeping the people safe from criminal elements.