The arrest of a gang of Georgian nationals for theft in Bardez is a further reaffirmation of the entry of foreigners into the crime scene in Goa.
Does the State still want to still play down the fact that crimes by foreign nationals are increasing, or even deny it? Well, it cannot be ignored any longer.
In recent months, at least half a dozen foreigners have been arrested on charges of growing drugs in their homes and compounds. The most recent, last month, was of the arrest of Russian tourist Ilia Alexsandrovich Shtennikov and the seizure of cannabis plants from his apartment in Pernem. On the same day three other Russians had been arrested with commercial quantity of drugs in their possession. Some months earlier, Russian couple Viacheslar Terekhin and Anna Asharova, had been held for allegedly growing cannabis in their rented apartment in Anjuna. Before that, police had arrested another foreigner Christopher Michael Pattison for growing cannabis in Alto Porvorim. Over the years a number of other Russian and Nigerian nationals have been arrested on drug-related charges. The list is long.
But, now the crimes in which foreigners have got involved in are not restricted to the peddling of drugs alone. Yes, they have been held for growing drugs, but the Georgian gang held on Thursday was for theft. The Russians arrested last month are also allegedly involved in an ATM theft and police were verifying whether they were involved in other robberies of automated teller machines in the State.
There are other illegalities in which foreigners are involved. A few months ago, the government had announced that it would identify and crack down on all restaurants and eateries being run by foreign nationals without required permissions. As per the statement of the Food and Drugs Administration Minister, a number of foreign nationals were involved in running restaurants along the coast without the permission of the FDA.
Foreigners are breaking various laws in Goa, and not just the visa rules by overstaying. As per data released by the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2016 there had been 22 crimes against foreigners in Goa, while the number of crimes by foreigners was 80, which included murder and rape, and the number had increased from the previous year. This is unassailable proof that crimes by foreigners in Goa are increasing and have to be tackled with a strong hand.
There are serious crimes being committed by tourists in the State and Goa’s Atithi Devo Bhava is not an attitude that should be extended to those who come from abroad and break the law here. The State welcomes the tourist who wants to holiday here in peace, but those who are abusing the hospitality of the State and taking advantage of the lax security measures to run an illegal trade or commit other crimes, have to be sniffed out, arrested and criminal proceedings launched against them. The fear of the law has to be put in the tourist.
Every time there is a crime against a foreigner in Goa, and it happens, we do not deny this, the State gets a lot of negative coverage in the national and international media. The State wants foreign tourists in Goa, but those with tourist visas cannot be allowed to bend or break the laws. Just as Goa has to provide the visitor with security, it has to also ensure that the local resident is safe from the marauding foreigner for whom a brush with the law is not a concern. The security measures have to be the same for both. The foreign visitor cannot be allowed to turn Goa into a crime haven.