The gang war that started in Taleigao and ended in Ribandar with the hand of a youth getting chopped off (it was later surgically reattached) sends out a strong signal that lawlessness in the State exists and that it cannot be ignored.
Had the fight not ended with a hand being chopped off, few may have not even learnt of the incident. It may perhaps not even have been reported to the police, if there had been no mutilation requiring surgery. It might have got ignored as a petty fight. But, this is a gang war, it is not possible for a group of eight persons to come to the garage of another and attack that person, unless there is some previous enemity and history.
There have been instances of attacks on people, rapes of locals and tourists, but gang wars have been rare. This shows a darker side of Goa, as it surfaces that there exist gangs, even if they are of a loose nature, and not as organised as perhaps in some other States. The fact that swords were brandished and iron rods were used, is an indication that the attackers came with a specific purpose and it was not a sudden altercation that led to fisticuffs. This was a planned attack the men came masked and armed with weapons, and hence has to be treated as such, taken seriously by the investigators and the persons involved made to face the law.
But are the law enforcement agencies capable of this? Just recently, a man who had been arrested for the rape of a foreign tourist escaped from the toilet of the court building where he had been taken for a case hearing.
Some six months earlier the man who has been accused in the gruesome Betalbatim rape case, and who has a long criminal record in his native Madhya Pradesh, escaped from his hospital bed. There is yet no sign of both these escaped prisoners. Is Goa, therefore, heading down the route of lawlessness? The police may well claim that they are not in a position to stop the stray crime, but when accused persons undergoing trial in court escape from the police, then their efficiency and professionalism comes into question.
Yet, when crimes such as that of the gang war are reported and jolt the people of the State, statistics with the Goa Police for the last year show a significant decline of 8.26 per cent in the overall crime rate. That is what statistics show, but what about the reality,which the people face daily and which the figures compiled by the government do not show?
Earlier this year, the Deputy Speaker had advised the police in the State not to concentrate only on helmetless riders, but extend their services to protect and safeguard the residents of Goa. He had said this against the backdrop of a number of mangalsutra snatching cases. Yes, crime exists, and even if statistics show a declining trend, it is there and it needs to be dealt with firmly.
Safety of the people has to be on the top of the list of the government and the law enforcement agencies. The Goan walking on the road has to feel safe and be safe. Youth should not feel that they can take the law into the hands and attack those with whom they have a previous hostile encounter. It is the duty of the police to keep the people of the State safe and also make them feel safe. Goa has to stand up against lawlessness of all kinds and the police have to ensure that the State and its inhabitants have no reason to look over their shoulder in fright.