In a much surprising event, a brutal assault came to light late on Sunday after the family of the tourist Jatin Sharma from Delhi, uploaded a video on social media citing their ordeal during their holiday in Goa in the first week of March.
As we write, four accused have been arrested in connection with the assault. All four of them are residents of Anjuna. As reported, the assault was a result of a quarrel between a waiter at the resort called Spazio Leisure and the victim on March 5, outside the resort premises in Anjuna. Jatin is reported to have been attacked by three to four individuals with swords and knives. The incident forced intervention from Chief Minister Pramod Sawant on Monday.
“My family visited goa's Anjuna where I was attacked by local gundas, police lodged for u/s 324 instead of 307 all the footage has been taken by the police from the resort. The name of the resort where we were having booking from 5th March to 9th March. The police had arrested 4 attackers whom I identified immediately on the day of the incident. But I believe they were released by the police. FIR 41/2023 Anjuna. The case was 307 but registered under 324. Fir does not disclose the names of the culprits. The matter of 307 converted to 324 for the help of local gundas. The staff of the hotel was one of the attackers named known as Roshan, (sic),” Jatin wrote on Instagram along with a video.
Blessed with rich flora and fauna, Goa is a well-known tourist destination for Indians as well as foreigners. The vibrant culture and heritage are beautifully conserved and nurtured by the people living in Goa, who are considered to be friendly and peace-loving. However, disturbing events like these put the state in a negative light and question the behaviour of locals as well as tourists, as in another recent incident a female tourist allegedly assaulted the guards at Goa's popular heritage site, the Old Goa church complex. The woman tourist was seen hitting a security guard with her footwear. The case was filed against the woman.
“It is from both sides, except in a few cases. I was born and brought up in Goa and we feel so safe. I have never heard a tourist say that Goa is not safe and that's why people from across the world come here,” says Akshay Patil, a resident of South Goa. He also points out that locals have no reason to not like tourists. “The economy is dependent on tourists and the locals have given their houses and stores for rent. Many women come to the state and roam late at night. It's a safe place,” he adds.
While all this is true and Goa is touted to be one of the safest places in India, this is not the first time assaulting events have come to the fore. In December last year, a young tourist, a female student, was raped on Christmas night by the driver of a tourist van near Panji. The survivour was part of a group of students from an educational institute in south India, who visited Goa during the festive week. The accused was arrested and remanded to police custody for five days.
A Japanese tourist, who was in Goa sometime back, had complained that he was looted by a group of nearly Rs 9.23 lakh.
A system in place for support
All these incidences come when tourism activity in the state peaks – from November end to at least April mid. Reportedly, the victim also shared pictures of the offenders.
The Goa government is committed to giving a safe environment to tourists visiting the state, but they should also follow the law and call the police if they meet with any injustice. We will fully support tourists if they complain at the appropriate office. Police are capable of dealing with any such situations,” said Pramod Sawant, Chief Minister of Goa in a statement.
A crime-free world may be a distant dream. But Goa being one of the safest states is known to give a red-carpet welcome to tourists and outsiders. It is also the one not offering even humane treatment to foreigners and outsiders, especially after the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus pandemic.
Sunny beaches, lively music and locals assaulting tourists
According to a big data study conducted by the Goa Institute of Management in 2021, Goa's tourism has seen a decline in the last few years. Safety issues, poor roads and garbage management, as well as exorbitant prices and theft, are some of the key reasons for the decline in tourist growth in Goa.
“It has become an overrated place. I used to love going there but now there are seldom any beaches left which have fewer people. Each place is filled and prices are so high for everything. It's annoying when you have to pay double the price for a bottle of petrol on the road. I understand, this is the way of earning for locals but they can't charge too much. The accommodation charges have become too high and it's crowded throughout the year,” says Bhopal resident Rubal Golani.
Archana Mehra, a US resident never misses taking her girl gang for a vacation in Goa on her visit to India. “It's my go-to place but it's also about how safe you stay. I have seen tourists who argue with locals over the smallest things. I always stay in a five star hotel and I have seen people getting into arguments with hotel staff. It is both ways. So far, I have never experienced any harassment from locals, rather I have seen many tourists arguing with locals,” says Archana, who last visited the state in January this year.
Josephine Glaser, a lawyer from Hanover in Germany visited Goa in November last year with one of her female friends. She shares, her experience wasn't as pleasant as her friend's. “All my friends who had gone to India mentioned Goa. They spoke so much about Goa so we both decided to spend some days in Goa but we left on the very second day. On the very first evening, we went to the beach close to our guest house. We were harassed by many drunken men. Many guys just asked us if they could come to our room. Some boys were following us when we were walking to leave the place,” says Josephine.
She further narrated that a security guard outside a hotel was observing this and he came for help. “Five minutes into the conversation he asked what drugs we wanted and he could get them for us. He asked if could come to spend the night at our place. He said we must be craving for brown skin men and foreigners don't care even if they are engaged. Where do people in India get this idea from?” she asks and adds that id these girls were not only harassed by drunken men but also by the sellers following them to buy clothes and jewellery. “I spend more in Goa than anywhere else in India. Varanasi was also not very pleasant with sellers harassing us,” she shares.
Tweet, Retweet, Share and Reshare
Akshay, here points out that social media has created hype for such events and Sanchita Palat, a bartender in a plush hotel in North Goa agrees. “It's true. These cases happen everywhere, but now because everyone has a smartphone they record the incident and share it on social media. And others just re-share and retweet it, making it sensational all the time something happens,” says Sanchita Palat, a bartender at a plush hotel in North Goa.
While one takes pride in India's rich culture and heritage, instances like these put one to shame and wonder if the tradition of welcoming guests has long been forgotten.
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