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This Is Not Goa

Crime is becoming brazen with swords and masks in the state

Some recent incidents of violence by criminals have sent shudder down the spine of Goans. Is this Goa?- they ask. In and around Panaji two attacks using swords have taken place in less than a month. Last Sunday members of a gang chopped off the wrist of a youth belonging to another group. Last month a city businessman was attacked with a sword by a violent group. A person was assaulted near the city market by a group of persons. A woman came out of her house to water flower pots in Porvorim and two motorcycle-born criminals snatched her mangalsutra. What have the police been doing? How can people feel safe in such an environment? What is worrying is that criminal activity is acquiring a professional character. This is proven by the fact that the attackers often use masks and two-wheelers without any registration number plates. It becomes difficult for the victims or eyewitnesses to identify the attackers and hence they, more often than not, escape the law.   

The rise in the number of criminal cases is indicative of the fact that policing has failed to serve as a deterrent. The law enforcement machinery has to act fast to safeguard people and prevent the situation from turning worse by instilling fear of law in the minds of criminals. Sunday’s attack was a fallout of previous enmity. Though four of the eight people involved in the attack were identified, the police have not been able to track them down even after 24 hours of attack. It was late on Monday night that one of the accused was arrested. Similarly, those involved in last month’s sword attack managed to give police a slip and later surrendered before them. Those involved in chain snatching cases have managed to escape the long arm of law for too long a time and have been able to strike almost all over state at will and get away. Though the modus operandi of the chain snatcher has been similar all throughout, it is amazing that culprits continue to strike at will. The government has been claiming fall in number of crimes in the state but recent spate of cases should send the alarm bells ringing for the police hierarchy.

As gangs have been operating in various parts of the state and carrying out attacks on one another without much restraint the police have to launch a campaign against them. Every village and every town has its share of criminally inclined elements. However it is the duty of the police to keep them in check. The police have to tackle criminal activities in cooperation with the local people who most of the time do not come out to support them as they are afraid that they would be targeted by criminals. Laxity on the part of law enforcement officials could lead to criminals striking not only against their adversaries but also law-abiding citizens. Goa is a tourist place and millions of visitors, including over half a million foreigners, come to the state every year. Over a dozen of domestic and foreign tourists died under ‘mysterious’ circumstances and police have failed to take the cases to a logical end.

The police need to think and act on ways to make sure Goa remains a safe state. To cope with rising crime the police need to strengthen intelligence gathering. The police must seek the help of local communities in keeping a tab on the criminals and gather crucial inputs about suspicious activities. Quite often bad elements are protected by local politicians, because they are useful to them in situations when they need to use strong-arm tactics. It is uncommon that bad elements get protection from local police in case their relationship can be profitable, such as in illegal sale of narcotic drugs. Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, who is also Home Minister, has to take a call on the patronage by politicians to and nexus of policemen with criminals and sit with the top brass of the police department to draw up an action plan to curb the rising crime which has caused fear in the minds of Goans.   

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