Saturday 15 Jun 2024

Cry, our beloved Anjuna. Cry!

| FEBRUARY 09, 2013, 10:13 AM IST

Our obsession with reporting from and of Anjuna in a depthand manner hitherto simply not done by newspapers has raised some eyebrows, Buthere’s the news – not breaking, but steady and sustained.

The obsession will continue. This isn’t because of a perverseurge to get into the theatre of tourism and spoil the party. Anjuna is still abeautiful village with lovely people and is indeed one of the nicest places forlocals and tourists. And most of them do not want this kind of a party, whichis nothing but a front for the sale and consumption of drugs, catalysed by tranceand rave music.

But the reason why we are persisting with reporting on the illsof Anjuna (and by association its neighbouring villages), is that the Anjunastory is not about drugs, drug dealers, loud music and violations. It’s about ahow a chunk of Goa, with Anjuna as its epicenter, has slipped out of the effectivecontrol of the state. It’s plain scary.

Police station heads mingle with murder accused and pass offmurders as suicides or accidental deaths. The police and the Anti NarcoticsControl cell plant drugs on some and sell seized drugs. But even these appearto be akin to a teddy bear’s party when weighed against the surrender of theadministration to a powerful lobby of shack and club owners who run operationsand exercise influence over the village. It’s the same four who were named andshamed – Curlies, Hippies, Hilltop and Shiva Valley – because of the brazennessof their illegality. We are unafraid to name them and charge them because ofthe irrefutable and documentary evidence that we have against them. The policetoo has it and so does the panchayat. It has no license, it used an old housenumber to once get a license for what it calls a restaurant, it flouts all soundand CRZ laws, the panchayat has confirmed in writing to the police that it doesnot have a license and yet Curlie’s parties every day. Last week it was one ofthe venues of a rolling music festival which went to other venues supported by sponsorsand a major media group. No one blinks, no activist stages marches demandingaction against the “lobby” controlling interests here.

Does Goa get looted, its resources marauded and itscharacter and identity compromised only when mining trucks pass throughvillages? What is happening in Anjuna is far worse. In the name of tourism andnightlife, the life of the locals – at least those not sucked into the greedgrid – a lobby of law breakers have taken complete charge. The Anjuna policestation, far from being the starting point of crime prevention and control,actually works as a facilitator.

Homes have become “guest houses”, ordinary folk with one roomhouses are building illegal extensions, some buildings are forcibly taken over,to either store drugs or become prostitution dens. The infamous nightspots arenothing but drug markets. This newspaper has witnessed teenagers stumbling outof interior rooms in one of the four clubs in a daze of dope, staggering andfalling on the dance floor with trance music played at ear splitting decibels.No one saw the drugged victims and the frenzy of drugged dancing continued.

The Chief Minister should know that Parivartan isn’t about makingcosmetic changes. The culture of governance must include changes in the way placeslike Anjuna are looked at because it is here that along with law, Goa’sidentity has taken a beating. Let us be fair. If we rave about migrants takingover villages like Nuvem and Dabolim (and the rest of Goa), is the brutality ofillegality the domain of only Goans here? While Goans are definitely kingpinsin the running of what we will call mafia nightclubs, the cesspool has manynon-Goan swimmers.

The way forward has to be both long term and short term. Rightnow, the balm of strong policing needs to be applied in a hurry. The man whobegan doing this, Vijay Singh IPS, shunted out because of pressure of the mafia,supported by a powerful ruling party local politician, should be brought back.

That done, there needs to be cohesive Anjuna plan that needsto be executed by a team with domain expertise in multi disciplines – law andorder, administration and local governance. Once there is a punishments deterrent,the other corrupt arms support lending a hand. But most importantly a programmeof education linked to employment – a vitamin in Goa, but a life-saving drug inAnjuna – has to be initiated. Secondly, the tourism policy should includesubsidies and grants for the youth to start tourism recognised guest houses, traveland tourist guide services and thirdly added incentives and reliefs should begiven to start larger dwellings and eating places with hugely reduced taxation.That will get more into the mainstream.

Meanwhile the mafia that rules Anjuna needs to be decimated anddestroyed and the village handed over to families who long to reclaim what wasone theirs – their beloved Anjuna.

Share this