Video clips of a young tourist and his relative being mercilessly attacked with knives and sharp iron rods by a group of locals at an Anjuna resort went viral on Sunday. The victim’s family calls Goa not a safe tourism destination and the incident is undoubtedly bad publicity for the State. What is however amusing is the desperate cover up attempt with belated action, and raking up a provocation story.
The gruesome attack on March 5 was kept under wraps and came to light only after a social media post by the victim a week later. The police who were seen at the site acted partisan, giving enough leeway to the accused even in booking them under section 324 and not 307 of the IPC.
Nonetheless, the savage life-threatening attack inside a resort has exposed the security vulnerability and complete numbness of our law and order protocol. By any yardstick, this incident called for immediate police action. But, it took a week for the State machinery to get into motion and for Chief Minister Pramod Sawant to mediate. The police bosses have not reacted yet, and neither is the head of the police station taken to task. In a knee-jerk reaction, the PSI is in the line of fire, and the case is now booked under section 307 of IPC, and another arrest was made on Monday.
Now consider the flip side. There are allegations that there was a provocation from the victim tourist. There is no denying the fact that tourists, at times, do act hostile. Last week desi tourists were engaged in a heated altercation, including foul language, against security personnel at the Old Goa basilica because they were not permitted entry ahead of the time restrictions.
Scuffles and abuses involving tourists and locals are not new in the State. Given the nature of hospitality on offer, Goa leaves enough scope for tourists to go free-wheeling, and spontaneous 'heat-of-the-moment' altercations are common. Against this, authorities are expected to show maximum restraint, tolerance and a certain level of diplomacy, which are crucial characteristics of good hospitality.
The chief minister has intervened and appealed to tourists to follow the rules while holidaying, but where are the rules? We proudly showcase Goa's selling points, not the prohibitions. It is the bounden duty of authorities to set protocol and discipline in motion by setting deterrents. The action on the ground in maintaining law and order should by itself send out a message loud and clear that nuisance will not be tolerated at any cost. A mere announcement by the CM to follow the rules can never work.
The Anjuna assault reeks of a system that is in sync with goondas, hooligans and anti-social elements, and those pointing fingers at the victim's provocation are making a futile attempt to seek redemption and find a narrow way out. A provocation against a staffer cannot justify a mob gatecrashing inside a resort and executing such a brutal attack.
While tourists cannot be allowed to take Goa's hospitality for granted, we as hosts must set the systems right, and the zero-tolerance towards violence that is preached so vivaciously must translate into action. Unfortunately, right now, it's empty talk.