19 Mar 2023  |   06:40am IST

With a Modi govt at the Centre, Goa should not be seen as sweeping politically backed extortion charges under the carpet

When MLA who’s flagging the extortion issue is scuttled by his party heavyweights is there hope of maintaining law & order?
With a Modi govt at the Centre, Goa should not be seen as sweeping politically backed extortion charges under the carpet

With Narendra Modi led government, it becomes all the more imperative for a double engine government in Goa to immediately either quash any allegation of hospitality business persons getting extortion threats or do a transparent investigation to prove that the story of politically connected extortionists creating panic among hospitality business owners is not correct.

The urgency to get the “forged letter” investigated should have been seen in the original extortion case

It is almost a week since this issue blew up in Goa, and the only sign of urgency seen is to ask the police to urgently inquire into the allegedly forged letter to the PMO by purported nightlife stakeholders pointing fingers at the CM as the supposed nerve centre in the extortion. While an investigation into any purported forgery of this nature is a must, the speed and priority accorded to this were in the extreme opposite to the absolute reluctance on the part of the system and the police to even take cognisance of the original issue, i.e. of the mass extortion threat story given to club, restaurant and night club owners of the North Goa coastal belt.

The first response itself was surprise when the police wanted to wait for a complaint. No businessman officially lodged a complaint for fear of retaliation. But a quick investigation could have worked in the government’s favour if it worked towards extinguishing the charges of official-linked compliance in the alleged extortion racket.

Clear moves seen to ignore and sidestep the BJP MLA  who has raised the extortion issue by others in the system

The BJP MLA from Calangute who raised the red flag of extortion was brushed away. Then a minister went to Salcete and linked the MLA to illegal water sports activities and even addressed the press on this. While any illegality including water sports should be looked into independently, the targeting of the MLA alleging he’s linked to the water sports operators can be clearly inferred as trying to corner the MLA who raised his voice to save the image of the party.

This PM will surely not want extortion taints on BJP governments a year before the Lok Sabha polls

Often people make up their minds about charges like these based on how the system reacts to them. Grains of truth are- more often rightly- assumed based on how quickly and seriously the official machinery gets to the bottom of it and either concludes that there is no basis or initiates action. NONE OF THIS WAS DONE.

Why is clearing and closing this issue so important?

From land grabbing to usurping government land to destroying the forests, environment, and rivers, to rampant drug activities, and illegal trance music parties, the general feeling is that official protection at different levels of government allows this. The charges against errant cops and the arrest of a mamlatdar are indications of this, though the rot is deeper. There are local allegations that businessmen of different levels of ethical conduct are controlling the system including influencing police and government postings. They in turn have linkages to bigwigs in the system who become their allies.

It is the government’s responsibility to change this  image of Goa even if it is limited to a  geographical area. A small state with tourism as its major draw cannot continue to have a negative image and halo of crime, lawlessness, and  official compliance doing the equivalent of the Naatu Naatu dance.


Iddhar Udhar