- THE GRAPH IS UP
THE GRAPH IS UP
While crime is gradually increasing in Goa, with cases of rape and murder increasing each year, the lack of proper investigation is also hampering justice. What’s more, some police officials of Goa Police have also been accused of sabotaging investigations, favouring the accused, manipulating and even altering the records, as revealed in the course of investigation. It is also alarming to note that the rate of acquittals is very high as compared to the conviction.
BASURI DESAI reflects the grim reality
argao has earned the dubious distinction of being the state’s top city as far as murders are concerned in the past three years as per the official figures of the Goa Police.
Of the total over 100 murders recorded in the last three years, Margao stands at the top spot, with the highest number of murders taking place since 2014, followed by murder cases registered at Old Goa police station, Porvorim police station and Vasco police station.
The increasing number of murders in the Goa has become a matter of grave concern of the police and other enforcement agencies of the State. The list also includes the murders of foreign tourists, domestic tourists, females and some unknown and unidentified individuals. It may come as a surprise to many, but several murders have also taken place due to property disputes in Goa.
Police officers say majority of the murders have taken place in the areas where migrant habitants dwell. Cities like Margao, Vasco, Mapusa, Old Goa are known places where a lot of migratory people take shelter. A detailed study of some cases reveal that many murders have also taken place due to initial petty fights.
Till June end this year total 111 murders have reported all over Goa in almost 25 police stations. Besides Margao -12, Old Goa Goa -10, Porvorim -9 and Vasco -8, there are eight cases of murders registered at Cuncolim police station, seven in Pernem, six each in Valpoi, Calangute, Mapusa and Ponda, five each in Curchorem and Maina Curtorim, four in Anjuna and three each in Mormugao and Bicholim.
Panjim, Agassaim, Collem, Saligao, Colva and Konkan Railway have only one murder case each registered in last three years.
Besides, infamous Scarlett case, a couple of other cases that are investigated by Goa police have not reached to its logical conclusion and has made a defined dent on Goa’s tourism image in the International scenario.
Many cases have remained unsolved. Goa police are also in dark over few other murder cases that include Shobha Karmali murder cases of Curchorem, Sunita Lamani of Porvorim and a case of burn body of a lady at Siolim. Police are still dragging their feet to detect these cases. Of three, Lamani and Karmali murder was taken place in broad day light.
Following detection of the cases Goa Police’s poor quality of investigation has further embarrassed the State looking at the acquittal and conviction chart of last three years.
Though, the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was investigating the Scarlett murder case and the Children’s Court of Goa had acquitted two of the accused (now appeal stands in High Court), but fact remains here is that the case was initially investigated by the Goa Police. It was due to its substandard investigation in the death of the foreign tourist the government was forced to handover the case to the central agency for further investigation. According to CBI, due to the delay in investigating vital evidences were wiped off.
Like the Scarlett case, there have been a number of cases where the shoddy investigation by Goa Police officers resulting in the acquittal of the accused and the denial of justice to the victims. Many such cases are pending with the appropriate courts and with different authorities.
Digging up old cases will open a can of worms that will subsequently expose several skeletons. The record of acquittals in crimes including murders, rapes, robberies, thefts etc is quite shocking, that clears all doubts about the Police’s investigation in the sensational cases.
In the year 2014, a total of 2405 cases were charge-sheeted by the Goa Police and 208 cases were convicted while 524 cases were acquitted.
In the year 2015, 139 cases were convicted while 245 cases were acquitted and in the year 2016, 48 cases convicted while 50 cases were convicted. In 2017 (till June 30) only one case was acquitted while five cases were convicted by the court.
Incidentally, the rate of acquittals is very high as compared to the conviction of the cases. In the year 2014 acquittal rate was 21.70 per cent while conviction was 8.65 per cent, in 2015 the acquittal rate was 12.49 per cent while conviction was 7.09 per cent, and in 2016 the acquittal was 3.85 per cent while conviction was 3.70 per cent. This year till June 30 the acquittal rate was 0.34 per cent and conviction rate was 1.17 per cent.
The official statistics provided by the Goa Police department also reveals the shocking rate of acquittal of even heinous crimes like murder and rape.
In the year 2016 and 2017 (till June) there was not a single conviction of murder and rapes case and no acquittal. But in the year 2014 there was only one conviction of the murder while there were eight acquittals.
In the same year there were four convictions for rape, while in 25 cases acquittal was granted.
In the year 2015 there were four cases of murder convicted while two went for acquittal. In the same year, in the three cases of rape the accused were convicted, while in the 12 cases acquittal was granted.
The rate of acquittal of the cases raises the question over the quality of the probe conducted by the investigation officers while conducting the investigation in the various cases under different heads of the crime.
Ironically, Goa police in past have been also accused of sabotaging investigations, favouring the accused, manipulating and even altering the records. This was revealed in the course of investigation.
There are several petitions that are also pending before the Goa Human Rights Commission (GHRC) and State Police Complaint Authority (SPCA). Many of the petitions are also disposed by the authorities after finding the officer guilty.
Once the crime is detected, the role of investigation officer becomes very crucial to prosecute the person in order to give justice to the victim.
Earlier, the Home Department suggested that Investigation Officers of the Goa Police be given inputs on the probe process to improve their detecting techniques and recommends giving compulsory training to the investigation after finding the various discrepancies in investigation carried out in the murder of foreign national.
“It was observed that the mistakes in the investigation process are acute and the government desires appropriate directions for fixing responsibility on the concerned. It is suggested that better training to Investigation Officers, at least 15 days in a year, needs to be worked out,” the letter to Director General of Goa Police date May 29, 2017, by Department of Home states. Home Department has also asked Goa Police to take necessary action in the matter.
Following the Home Department observations, Goa Police on July 26, 2017, issued the order for the training programme for officers in batches of two PSIs of each Police Station, followed by ASIs and HCs.
Home department’s strictures are also fallout of the shoddy probe of investigation officers and the department had taken a strong note in a probe conducted by Police Inspector Nilesh Rane, who was probing the murder in which a Czech Republic national was accused. It was evident that there were several loopholes in the investigation.
Lethargy and irresponsible attitude of the Goa police was recently seen in the some of the cases that include the death of Finnish national in Canacona and death of noted activists Fr Bismarque Dias. In both the cases the families had to approach the court to get the FIR register as murder.
A retired Police officer speaking to Herald said, if the death is suspicious and the family members or relatives of deceased are alleging that the death is not an unnatural, than police are bound to register the case as a murder and investigate it.
“Police are not supreme to decide without investigating that the death is unnatural and not a murder. Time and again people have to approach court to get direction to register FIR. The loss of time in the process completely changes the direction of the investigation,” an officer said.
In the case of Felix Dahl, Finnish national who was found dead in mysterious circumstances in Canacona near Patnem village, the FIR was registered almost after a year, after the family members demanding to register the case as murder.
Police failed to register the FIR but based on the directions from the court Canacona Police have registered the case but there is no headway in the matter. Now the family has been forced to approach the Bench of Bombay High Court in Goa through writ petition pleading to handover the investigation to CBI. The family has already written to the Prime Minister of India and also to the Chief Minister of Goa about the shoddy probe by the Goa Police.
In Bismarque Dias death, it was a similar matter. Crime Branch registered the murder only after the direction of High Court.
There are hundreds of such cases in which investigation officer has denied giving justice to the victims.