An ugly clash between a group of unruly tourists and local goons including a staffer of a resort reignited the debate on the 'sab chalta hai' attitude in Goa. There’s no fear of the law either by the tourists or notorious elements in the State and more so, by visitors who care a damn about the State’s hospitality industry.
Silence on Violence
Notwithstanding this argument, the police are being criticized for showing laxity in the shocking incident at Anjuna’s Spazio Leisure resort. The otherwise busy Anjuna police station is caught in a serious allegation of trying to hush up the as ‘hurt by dangerous weapons’ under a bailable offence.
The victims who claimed helplessness in Goa created a video accusing a nexus between the cops and the accused and leaked online only after their return to Delhi. Embarrassed, the department swung into action, suspended its sub-inspector Francisco Xavier and added Section 307 IPC to the original FIR.
The incident happened on a busy street right in front of the resort when the tourists got into a brawl with Royston Dias alias Roshan and his accomplices. In the heat of the moment, the situation escalated, and the locals pulled out swords, belts, and baseball bats to attack the tourists, leaving them seriously injured.
Despite the severity of the crime, the police registered sections 323 (causing hurt), 324 (causing hurt by dangerous weapons) and 504 (threatening) read with 34 (common intention) of IPC. The reasons for the delay are unclear, but it is speculated that it might have been due to a lack of resources, incompetence, or a deliberate attempt to cover up the crime.
SP: Lapse or mischief,
inquiry will reveal
Superintendent of Police (North Goa) Nidhin Valsan has denied allegations of delay in response time; however, conceded initial lapse on the part of the local police.
“The police were quick to report to the scene of the crime and shift injured victims to the hospital. A First Information Report was also registered. There was no delay of any sort, but prima facie the case should have been registered under section 307 (murder attempt) IPC. There was a lapse,” he said while speaking to The Goan. Officer of the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police is conducting the inquiry.
The tourists were also on the wrong side of the law and instigated the crime but regardless of their behaviour, the offenders had no right to resort to violence and take the law into their own hands.
The lapse not only affected preliminary investigation but also sent a wrong message to society that such violent crimes can be ignored or excused if the victims are perceived to be at fault. The accused were arrested only after the victims raised safety concerns in the internationally-acclaimed tourist hub with accusations of police inaction.
“We are inquiring into why a non-bailable offence was not invoked. Whether the police officer was confused or he tried to downplay the incident, all will be covered in our departmental inquiry,” he added.
The incident has once again highlighted the need for the police to act impartially and swiftly in all cases, irrespective of the victim's background or actions. The incident reminds no one is above the law, and the police must uphold their responsibility to serve and protect.
PI's role is questionable
Police Sub Inspector Francisco Xavier was quickly suspended in the department’s first attempt to damage control its action amid questions about why the Inspector is not held responsible for the lapse considering that he heads the station.
SP (North Goa) Valsan maintained that ongoing departmental action against the PSI also covers the PI’s conduct. “We are inquiring into circumstances or lapse for not registering an offence under Section 307 IPC. Whether the PSI was under extraneous pressure or mischief or was it an oversight? The inquiry will fix the responsibility on whoever is at fault. Even if it is the PI, action will be taken accordingly. The inquiry covers every aspect of the case,” he said.
The incident once again highlights the issue of accountability in the police force. Responsibility for the actions of their subordinates, especially in cases of serious lapses such as this will ensure justice and maintain the public’s trust in the police force.
Legal action looms for tourists who instigated Anjuna violence
While surprisingly no complaint has come forward against the tourist family for manhandling and abusing the resort staff and resorting to violence; action against them is just one step away. The Anjuna police claimed they are awaiting a complaint to initiate action against the victims even as an ongoing internal inquiry is verifying if the tourists were also on the wrong side of the law.
FAST REWIND: CRIMES AGAINST TOURISTS
March 14, 2023: Maharashtrian tourist Omkar Upwane was attacked by two bike-borne locals, who chased him for overtaking them in Anjuna. Viraj Parsekar and Siddhant Khorjuvekar were arrested under sections 308 (attempt to culpable homicide) and 341 (wrongful restraint) of the IPC.
December 2022: Japanese tourist Tatsuki Teramoto took to social media last month alleging that a ‘fake policeman’ robbed him of 1,50,000 Yen (Rs 9.23 lakh in Indian currency), credit cards and other valuables from his backpack. His mobile phone (iPhone 11) was also taken away from him. Three persons were arrested.
The complaint came in wake of the Japanese consulate issuing an advisory warning Japanese tourists visiting Goa “to remain aware and vigilant of any activities of criminal groups targeting travellers, and implicating them into false cases of banned drug possession and then extorting money from them.”
December 2022: Russian national was allegedly raped by two Nepalis employed at a hotel where the 37-year-old had checked in with two of her friends. The accused were arrested.
March 14, 2017: Danielle Mclaughlin from Buncrana, Donegal in Ireland was found dead in a secluded spot in Canacona. The trial began in the Margao court on April 6, 2018, with her family alleging it has continued intermittently taking place only twice a month. Accused Vikat Bhagat was last year granted interim bail on personal grounds.
June 2017: A minor spat between tourists and locals in Merces turned violent with at least 20 of 50 tourists including five-year-old suffering injuries. Lawrence Dias, the prime accused, was angered after one of the tourists allegedly brushed against him and in retaliation, he slapped another tourist followed by a violent clash. The hotel manager resolved the matter but subsequently, when the tourists were boarding their bus, a group of goons attacked them with swords, sticks and other weapons. The accused were arrested later.
January 28, 2015: Finnish tourist Felix Dahl was found dead in suspicious circumstances on a quiet gravel road, 200m from a restaurant in Patnem, Canacona. The Canacona police initially registered a case of unnatural death which was registered under IPC sections in 2016 on the local court’s directions. The police’s closure report in 2018 was challenged by the family, after which the CBI took over the case. The investigation isn’t complete yet.