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Locals divided on Merces assault incident

17 Jun 2017 12:41am IST

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Team Herald

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17 Jun 2017 12:41am IST

Report by
Team Herald

PANJIM: Though the uncanny silence still continues at Merces over the attack on a group of Mumbai-based tourists, the locals are divided on who is to be blamed for instigating the fight. While many have preferred to remain mum on the ‘bloody attack’ to avoid being dragged into any “lafda,” the staff at the restaurant - where the trouble began - claimed there was a fist fight between one of the tourists and prime accused Lawrence Dias before the dreadful attack.

“There was a verbal spat ensued when the tourist’s arm brushed against Dias. They indulged in fist fight just outside (the restaurant). We stopped them and another man took Dias away,” said Vasant Patil, a senior employee at Hotel Café Hoble said.

Dias allegedly promised to take revenge while onlookers kept distance, probably because of the former’s criminal background. Patil said the tourists’ including a child then walked their way to the bus - parked near the hotel, where they stayed during their holiday period. Patil, a Kolhapur native blames the tourists for the fight but could explain the reason except that one of them brushed his arm against Dias, who was sipping tea. “He is a good man,” he added virtually giving the accused a clean chit.

The small restaurant hotel, which has CCTVs installed in and around the premise, has Dias as its regular customer. He had ordered for tea like any other day, the restaurant cook explained in Hindi. “He (Dias) was the first to enter the restaurant and he ordered for tea. The tourists came in later and ordered for ‘vada,’ buns and tea,” he said adding, “He visits us very often.”

After the brief tussle between them, what happened next was neither imagined nor did Patil or other staff, claimed to have seen it. “We heard that there was fight in the middle of the road but we didn’t see anything,” the restaurant staff said.

Whereas, proprietor of a hotel, who refused to be named, slammed Dias for tainting the image of the village and the State. “He is a notorious man. He has spoilt the name of Merces and Goa. Majority of us (Goans) live on tourism, and this criminal activity must surely have raised apprehensions among other tourists about their safety in Goa. He is driving away the tourists,” she alleged. “I want to leave this village and settle in Panjim,” said the angry woman.

Herald tried to speak to other residents and those running their business in the vicinity but they refused to cooperate. “I do not want to fall in the police lafda. It is better to stay away from the mess,” said a guest house owner, however conceding that Dias and his associates Suraj Golatkar and Vishal Shetye have once again put a spotlight on the village for all the wrong reasons. While the trio is known for their involvement in previous crimes, the absconding accused Sai Kundaikar is a new face to them.

“I was not at the shop but I heard people speaking about some attack on tourists,” said a lady employee at a sweet mart, adjacent to the crime site.

The 47-member family had arrived in Goa just three days before the incident. “They had checked in at midnight. They stay was for three days only,” said a senior police officer. 

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