The arrest of Israeli national Yaniv Benaim alias Atala in Uttarakhand for illegally staying in India for seven years is an embarassment to the Goa Police force, which has been unable to arrest the man who has been arrested and convicted in the past, and is now also wanted in a fresh case.
The latest case in which he has been named as an accused is that of assaulting a man with a steel rod and a knife. If the arrest in Uttarakhand was not embarassing enough to the Goa Police, the plea to have him produced before the court in Goa on May 9 was turned down by the Uttarakhand Police who said it was not possible to produce him before the court due to election duty and have sought a fresh date for his appearance. But, it does not end there for Goa Police.
There is reason to believe that the police of the northern hill State are not too keen to hand over the Israeli national to the custody of Goa Police, a force that has not been able to arrest Atala though he has been staying Goa without valid documents for many years. As a police officer himself said, this is a ‘gross violation’ as he is a foreign national with criminal antecedents staying without documents. The critical issue is that Goa as a tourism State is under terrorist threat, and yet the police did not succeed in keeping an eye on him in Goa, and he roamed freely in the State, even allegedly committing another crime last month, just five days before he was arrested in Uttarakhand.
Atala, many will recall, was the man around which the alleged police-politician-drug-mafia nexus cases was centred upon. He was later discharged for lack of evidence. The ease with which Atala evaded arrest by Goa Police, managed to cross the State border and reach Uttarakhand on the way to Nepal indicates just how casually the local police have been taking their duties. Goa went to the polls on April 23, and is still in election mode as the by-elections to the Panjim Assembly constitutency are still due. This is a period during which the law enforcement agencies are expected to step up their alertness level, even sending notices to known trouble makers and getting them to sign bonds of good behaviour. Besides, following the terror attacks in Sri Lanka on Easter Sunday, Goa has been placed on high alert, and meetings have been held between the police and the tourism industry to safeguard the State and the people.
With such stringent policing at this point of time, how could a foreign national, staying in Goa without proper documentation for seven years, be allowed to roam around freely in the State, and then cross the borders? He was even allegedly involved in a crime and managed to escape the police, who are now seeking his custody after his arrest in Uttarakhand, and so far have been unsucessful in getting him to Goa. This is an illustration of the lax attitude of the law enforcement agencies and the casual manner in which they work. When police officers themselves admit of ‘gross violation’ then there has to be some stringent policing involved to ensure that such violations are tackled.
If there is reluctance on the part of the Uttarakhand police to hand over Atala to the Goa force, then it is evident that the local police failed at some point and hence there is need for some course correction. Atala lived in Goa for seven years, but has been arrested in Uttarakhand just five days after commiting a crime in Goa, there are lessons to be learnt here for the Goa Police force.