Goa: Tiff between locals and tourists in Merces leaves 20 injured

A minor spat between tourists and locals in Merces, Goa, turned violent on Wednesday, with at least 20 people including a five-year-old suffering injury. The narrow and usually calm streets of Merces turned into a battleground on Wednesday as the busload of tourists fought off four armed men — all with criminal records.

The incident took place when a 50-member family of tourists, dining at a hotel, had an encounter with Lawrence Dias, the prime accused. Dias was angered after one of the tourists allegedly brushed against him and in retaliation, he slapped another tourist, a 58-year-old Lahu Ghodekar. A fist fight ensued but was immediately resolved with the intervention of the hotel manager. However, Dias vowed to return. He said he would call his friends and show them their place.

As the family boarded a Maharashtra plated bus to return, Dias and three others arrived with knives and swords and attacked them. The driver was pulled out and beaten with a wooden cane, kicked and hit. Two tourists suffered fractures after being attacked with weapons such as knives and swords, while others were treated for minor injuries.

According to reports, the accused, who are all residents of Merces, with the common intention and armed with deadly weapons, came in opposite directions and restrained the bus. Further, one of the accused snatched the bus keys from the driver while the others pelted stones on the front glass and windows and thus caused damage due to which some of the passengers from the bus got seriously injured.

Three of the accused, Dias, Vishal Golatkar, and Suraj Shetye, were later arrested by the police, while Sai Kundaikar is absconding. All four have criminal backgrounds. The accused were taken to Goa Medical College where they received treatment for their injuries, before being produced in court. The family, after receiving treatment, was escorted to Mumbai with police protection.

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