The Goa police arrested 422 foreigners for their involvement in criminal activities over the last four and half years. A staggering 71 per cent of those arrested have been found to be involved in drug trade or other heinous criminal cases. About 29 per cent of them were found overstaying or not in possession of proper travel documents. According to the figures released by the Foreigners Regional Registration Office (FRRO) in the state, between January 2014 and May 2018 as many as 118 foreigners were arrested under the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances (NDPS) Act and 180 others under various other sections of the Indian Penal Code. During the same period the police also arrested 124 foreigners for overstaying, and for not possessing passport and for other similar offences. The foreigners engaged in criminal activities are mainly from a few countries, with Nigerians topping the list. The figures may not be realistic as it is unlikely that all those who are engaged in criminal activities have been apprehended by the police. There is every possibility of many others having succeeded in dodging the law enforcement agencies.
As far as the drug scene goes, the story remains familiar. The FRRO figures reveal that 71 Nigerians were arrested for their involvement in NDPS-related cases and accounted for overwhelming 71 per cent of those held in drug trade related cases. The others who were arrested in drug cases were Israelis and Nepalis. The list of drug peddlers or suppliers also includes the nationals of Russia, Germany and United Kingdom. The Nigerians also topped the list of foreigners against whom cases were registered under various sections of IPC. The number of Nigerians arrested for criminal cases other than drugs has been put at 67, while Russians (20), Britons (17), Nepalis (14) followed them. The state has penalized 761 foreigners for overstaying and deported 53 of them. Some of the foreigners are habitual offenders. There are cases in which foreigners with a criminal bent of mind get themselves arrested by the Goa police for minor crimes and then use their prosecution as a licence to prolong their stay in the state in order to carry on with bigger crimes including drug trade. Absence of a detention centre served to their advantage and they used their freedom on bail to carry on illegal activities. It was only recently that the state has taken steps to use the Mapusa sub-jail as a detention centre to house foreigners contravening Foreigners’ Act.
Most of the foreigners coming to the state are tourists. However, there are quite a few, especially from African countries, who come on student visas and stay for several years in the state using their ‘failure’ in examinations to go on extending their stay. Some of them were arrested for involvement in crimes including drug trade. There are also cases of foreigners having married local girls and continued their stay taking advantage of the legal provisions that allow them to stay on. While crimes against foreigners in the state have been highlighted by the media the world over, the crimes committed by the foreigners seldom get reported. The data released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) has revealed that contrary to the perception that foreigners were often victims of crime in Goa, more crimes were committed by foreigners than against them. As per NCRB data for 2016, while there were 22 crimes committed against foreigners, the crimes committed by foreigners rose to 80, as against 69 in the previous year. Of the 80 cases committed by foreigners, one was murder, three rapes and 21 cases of cheating.
Foreign tourists generally come as couples and families and are looked upon with respect by the locals. However, there are bad elements everywhere. Foreigners involved in criminal activities have chosen certain areas to carry on with their illegal activities. Some of them enjoy patronage of politicians. The police must come down heavily against them as well as their patrons. As the number of foreigners involved in criminal activities is rising, the cases against them need to be fast tracked, so that they can be sentenced and deported immediately after completion of their sentence and banned from entering the state again. The policing in the areas of foreigners’ criminal activities should be tightened and only good and trusted officers should be posted by the director general of police. Drug peddling has been growing in the state in view of corruption in police stations. Foreigners can perhaps pay better!