Not too long ago, a couple of young people walked into the office of a travel agency in a central European city and looked for options to travel to, in Asia.
Since they had heard a lot about the uniqueness and vibrancy of a place called Goa in India, they checked options of travel and accommodation to Goa.
The person at the other end whose business was to maximise bookings for his organisation surprisingly dissuaded them from going saying, “Goa is not safe and it’s dangerous”.
If a travel planner sitting in a small country in Europe, preferred to divert an interested traveller away from Goa to any other country, for safety reasons, it is a cause of great alarm, if Goa’s reputation precedes itself as an unsafe place.
Tables have turned because the loyalty of those in uniform has turned to a new set of bosses
One remark of the dynamic Police Commissioner of Hyderabad CV Anand to Herald on Saturday is very important, “We will be seeking Goa Police’s help in apprehending drug gangsters operating out of their havens in Goa in true spirit and without leakage.”
If one reads between the lines “leakage” indicates an apprehension that Telangana police movements could be leaked to the drug dealers by those within the system in Goa.
In fact, the apprehension is because the system in Goa seems to be dependent on the drug trade, so why would it do anything to eradicate it?
At the same time, he made a touching remark indicating that his police force is not working towards glory or medals but towards eradicating this menace which will harm society. Such a brave remark will go a long way not in inspiring the people of Telangana but also giving hope to the people of Goa that such officers, will provide safety and security to them and their children.
Anjuna: Where the police pay a price, only to recover it
Does one have confidence in levels of policing in the “drug belt” of Anjuna, Vagator Siolim, etc? Haven’t we all heard conversations that no price is too high for someone who wants to serve in certain police stations in this belt? This begs the question- Serve whom or serve what?
The willingness to pay any price including moral and ethical for such a position is due to the confidence that the investment will be well recovered.
As the Hyderabad police have said, the massive supply of drugs into the Goan system makes it a business worth hundreds of crores. Could this business have functioned for over ten years and only grown, if the people who are placed there to “serve” the people and the State, did not end up serving those who are running and profiting from this multi-crore business?
The impact of Goa’s drug trade: Mysterious unnatural deaths
Like Sonali Phogat, many have died in the past in similar circumstances, most of them women. And in each of these cases the cocktail of drugs and forced or drug-induced sex has come up, though, in Phogat’s case, the latter aspect hasn’t emerged.
After the reported rape and murder of Danielle McLaughlin in 2017, an RTI request was filed by local, seeking information on the deaths of foreigners in Goa in the last 12 years (2005 tom 2017).
According to an RTI reply accessed by a local activist in support of relatives of several of the deceased, a shocking 245 foreigners had died in Goa in the last those twelve years which is about 20 a year. While the specific cases from 2017 to 2022 are not available, the number of deaths till 2022 may have gone up by another 100 to 345.
With the viscera in many of these not preserved or with testing delayed beyond the scientific time period to get the basic minimum true results and determine the presence of drug or alcohol, the investigations into these cases gave all been thoroughly compromised leading to most registered as murder cases and simply buried.
Meanwhile, the ones registered as “murder” or any other serious section of the IPC have traveled on the very slow train to justice. Here is just one example of how slow. In the five-year-long trial in the murder case of Danielle McLaughlin, only ten witnesses have been examined. So firstly, viscera reports are always late giving no conclusive evidence of the presence of drugs or alcohol. Then the cases drag on for years which make the investigation and the judicial process not count in the final analysis.
One should now understand the mindset of those travel agents who were not only uncomfortable but literally warned tourists not to travel to Goa. With the number of possible drug-related deaths increasing, (with the postmortem on almost 100% of cases, “reserving” the cause of death awaiting viscera reports) there is never any conclusion but a growing assumption that drug-related deaths are occurring in Goa with regularity.
Now with CCTV footage being more widely available, there was enough material available to establish a prima facie case that possible spiked drinks were forcibly given to Sonali Phogat.
The presence of drugs in the toilet of Curlies, as the police have only highlighted is indicative that the nightlife business in Goa, within the constituencies of Calangute, Siolim, Mandrem and parts of Pernem, is linked to the drug business. This does not need documentary evidence but basic on-the-ground knowledge.
However, the investigations carried out by the anti-narcotics wing of the Telangana police and the Hyderabad police team, while cracking down on Goa-based drug dealers operating in Hyderabad, has brought the focus back on how deep and extensive the drug business in Goa is.
The Telangana police have been seeking information and logistical support from the Goa Police in its action big and small fish (there are 174 accused in cases related to Goan drug dealers operating in Telangana).
Certificates Goa has got as a facilitator of a drug-filled state
When the police commissioner of the capital of the state of Telangana openly says that “there is nothing to hide that Goa police has not been cooperative”, it is shocking.
Certificates #2- Some of the biggest drug dealers in the country have shifted base to Goa
The second certificate that Goa got from the Telangana police is that the biggest drug dealers in India have shifted base to Goa, operating out of massive safe houses with ferocious dogs and running interstate gangs of dealers who are sending the drugs out.
However, the Goa Chief Minister’s assurance that Goa will be drugs free in three months, i.e. December 2, is welcome and Goans are looking forward to this assurance with the hope that the answer to each of the questions below will be yes.
Will we have a professional police force posted, which not influenced by local politicians?
Will the ANC be given a free hand with added facilities, infrastructure, budgets, and manpower for its war on drugs?
Will existing drug-related murder investigations be expedited?
Will there be a crackdown on drug havens in the state and those drug lords wanted by Telangana police be handed over?
To start with, a yes to all of this will be more than enough.