The dangerous cocktail of illegal activities such as prostitution, gambling and drugs continues to be served on a platter to tourists in Goa, which has been possible due to political patronage. If the government does not want to, then not even a single illegal activity can continue for even a minute.
In March this year, Director General of Police (DGP) Jaspal Singh had reportedly said that the State reported a ten-fold jump in public gambling and drugs cases in February, when compared to the same period in 2022. Last year, 184 cases were booked in public gambling as against 16 cases in February. Similarly, 15 cases of drug detection were booked this year in February as against seven cases for the corresponding month in 2022.
The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report for 2021 revealed that Goa recorded 15 cases of human trafficking in which 38 victims were adult women and Indian nationals. Goa has the highest rate of human trafficking cases per lakh population.
Goa is undoubtedly a beautiful state of India with its rich flora and fauna and its buzzing nightlife that attracts tourists from all over the world to this favourite destination. However, beneath the shiny lights, there is a dark shameful truth. With its status of a thriving tourist destination, there are vices that also follow very closely.
Women and girls are trafficked to Goa from different parts of India and even from other countries. Goa is not only a destination State, but girls and women from Goa have also been victims of commercial sexual exploitation. A study done by ARZ, Goa, the NGO working towards rescuing and rehabilitating victims of commercial sex exploitation, shows that between 2014-2019, 7.1% of the women trafficked in Goa are from the State itself.
Similarly, drugs are easily available and consumed with ease in Goa, which is a known fact. Either authorities are intentionally feigning ignorance regarding the whereabouts of peddlers, or they are incompetent enough to be unable to detect their location.
The bigger problem here is, this toxic and lethal cocktail of vices which are targeted towards tourists, are also destroying Goan lives.
The drug abuse problem is now eating into the Goan society and is doing much more damage than alcohol. Drug and alcohol use affects health, job opportunities, family life, and academic outcomes. The problem is grave and continues to wreak havoc in the state, resulting in tragic consequences for young adolescents, their families, and communities.
Free flowing alcohol is leading to drunken driving cases. Recently, we have witnessed some ghastly incidents of car crashes under the influence of alcohol. Blood of innocent lives is being spilled on the roads, lives of survivors of accident victims have come down crashing on them.
Add to this are trance parties where loud noise blaring from the commercial establishments beyond permissible limits and traffic jams in the coastal belts of Goa are making lives hell for the local residents. The government continues to care less as it wants to “attract tourists”.
It is ironic that on one hand the establishment wants “quality tourists”, on the other hand it offers all the possible vices on a platter that would only contribute to the State’s crime graph. The peace and tranquility in traditional villages around is now being destroyed by the menace of guest houses and homestays, which soon degenerate into partying places, drug dens and brothels, and disturb the entire neighbourhood day and night besides endangering security. Can the State ever attract quality tourists if it continues to let such vulgar forms of tourism flourish?
It is ironic that the same politicians who have decried such a destructive model of tourism when in the opposition, are now passive promoters of the very same unethical and immoral tourism, under a veil of promoting local livelihoods and sustainable tourism. They pretend not to see the larger social injustices and evils from tourism.
We are not even talking about destroying lakhs of acres of forest land to set up hotels and holiday homes “to attract tourists”.
The political leadership of this State is not getting the big picture. They are promoting all kinds of illegalities in the name of bolstering the State’s economy and destroying our present and the future generations. Let it be also clear that not a single rupee earned from this blood money is getting pumped into the State’s economy, nor is it warranted. Actually, the money earned from all these illegalities is actually filling the coffers of the politicians and bureaucrats.
There has to be some limit to greed. How much is enough? Will setting up palatial houses on the graves of youngsters bring peace to their hearts? It is time to rethink the choices we make. We have to rise above our vested interests and exercise our franchise to clean up the muck which is there in our political system.