26 Nov 2021  |   06:39am IST

Road tourists to Goa harassed, robbed and attacked by blackmailing touts

Porvorim has become a hub, uncontrolled activities of touts and miscreants; Tourists escorted to flats on the pretext of rejuvenating body massages and harassed and robbed; Bouncers hired by miscreants take victims to ATMs and forcibly withdraw cash from their accounts
Road tourists to Goa harassed, robbed  and attacked by blackmailing touts

BASURI DESAI


PORVORIM: We have seen the ugly side of tourism and the behavior of some tourists. But there’s another side too. The victimization, torture, robbery and blackmail of many tourists, mainly by touts and middlemen, who too are mainly from outside Goa.

On November 9, tourists had to literally jump from the roof of the house to save themselves from the robbers who were thrashing them to snatch the cash and belongings and get their password for internet banking.

A local TV channel that was contacted by the victim tourists had recorded the entire footage of the house along with the victims while the occupants managed to escape. A detailed complaint was filed with the Porvorim Police, but the action is yet to be initiated against the culprits despite having clear evidence against them.

“We were approached by two people on motorcycles and asked to stop the car, and they offered us a body massage. We went along with them inside the parlour, but to our surprise, there was nothing inside but 10-12 bouncers who started beating us without uttering a word,” one of the tourists from Maharashtra told Herald.

He added that Rs 38,000 cash was taken. The miscreants also stopped at an ATM and transferred Rs 20,000, and snatched everybody’s mobile phones.

While the police are turning a blind eye to the activities that are happening just a kilometre away from the North Goa Police headquarters, the touts and miscreants are looting domestic tourists under the pretext of massages and rooms.

The incidents occurred next to the national highway in Porvorim. 

Speaking to Herald, tourists from neighbouring states, said they are approached by touts on the pretext of rooms, massages, and travel guides, and are looted and robbed after taking them inside the rented premises.

Goa Police are yet to break this ring of touts, in spite of complaints and information.

Speaking to Herald, Porvorim Police Inspector Neenad Deulkar said, “There is no complaint received from the tourists and no FIR is registered.”

“We have learnt that a lot of touts are creating a nuisance in Porvorim that may lead to untoward incidents. But we are keeping a strict vigil over any suspicious activity in each and every corner of Porvorim,” he said.



Tourists claim that they have given evidence of online bank transfers and ATM card records, swiping data as evidence of how these miscreants have also swiped their cards on POS machines and forcefully transferred cash via online banking.

Another tourist from Hubali, Karnataka, had a similar story to tell, but he was approached by touts on the road offering lodging.

“I went inside the house to check the rooms, thinking it was an office, but we were beaten up by the bouncers present inside and looted. They have taken everything including cash, gold ornaments, and mobile phones,” the victim tourist said.

It is learnt that non-Hindi-speaking bouncers are sourced from Karnataka and other states with their only responsibility being to beat the tourists who are brought inside by soliciting them. Victim tourists have said that all valuables, including jewelry, mobile phones, ATMs and credit cards, have been snatched by the miscreants.

MODUS operendi 

The modus operendi is to solicit tourists to offer body massages or help them get cheap accommodation and boat trips. In view of the ease of finding good hotels, tourists fall in the trap. Strategically, tourists said that the miscreants have also installed mobile phone jammers inside the flats they operate from so that victims cannot contact the State emergency helpline in distress.

Hence in the November 9 incident, there was no other option before the tourists jumped from the roof to escape the looters.

Blackmail tactics used 

According to one of the victims, the miscreants made them remove all their clothes forcibly. They then clicked their pictures along with an unknown female sitting on their laps and later blackmailed them by threatening to make the pictures viral on social media. The distressed victims end up emptying their pockets as well as bank accounts.

First, they approach tourists and offer massages. If that fails, they offer cheap lodging and sightseeing. Tourists coming to Goa easily get stuck in their trap.

GANG 

The gang has been operational in Bardez for many years while over 10 cases have been already registered in different police stations of the sub districts.

One J S Mascarenhas and A Sharma of Delhi are said to be the kingpins in this as per the records of the Police in Bardez. Despite criminal records these players operate in the prime tourist hub ahead of the much-awaited peak tourist season in Goa.

A senior police officer speaking to the Herald said that there are a couple of cases that have been registered against the duo, along with others of such nature in different police stations.


IDhar UDHAR

IDHAR UDHAR