State police failed to take advantage of the lull period
GOA has seen a spurt in criminal activities since the restrictions imposed during the lockdown in view of the coronavirus pandemic started getting withdrawn. Over the last four months Goa has witnessed almost all types of criminal activities, ranging from murders, drugs, rave parties, liquor smuggling, prostitution, gang fight and assaults. In the latest instance of criminal activities, the Calangute police busted a gambling racket at Gaurawaddo on Saturday night. They arrested as many as 42 people involved in illegal gambling and seized cash amounting to more than Rs 10 lakh and over 5,700 chips, each worth Rs 1,000 and other items used for gambling. Most of the people apprehended by the police had come down to Goa from Gujarat, Maharashtra and Delhi. In another recent incident the officials of the excise department seized liquor worth over Rs 11 lakh from a truck at Patradevi from a truck registered in Maharashtra. There have been numerous cases of assault in the state, including a few in which the victims have died.
Goa had witnessed virtually zero crime between March and May when the lockdown was in force. The criminals apparently did not dare to venture out during that period and perhaps refrained from committing crimes. There were also no major road accidents, except one at Verna when a few youths lost their lives after the speeding vehicle in which they were travelling met with an accident. However, the tranquillity witnessed during the lockdown does not obtain any more. Obviously, the criminal gangs were waiting for relaxations in inter-state movements and other economic activities in order to restart their nefarious activities. The zero crime during the lockdown was just an illusion. The criminals were preparing to strike again as soon as the normal activities resumed. Criminal gangs have the tendency of taking advantage of crowds and movements in order to carry out their activities. It remains to be seen how the state police deal with the increase in criminal activities. The seizures of drugs over the last four months, the murder of a jeweller in Margao earlier this month, the gang fight in St Cruz in June and prostitution rackets being busted are some of major crimes reported in the state ever since the lockdown came to be withdrawn in phases.
Though gambling in the offshore casinos has stopped due to restrictions imposed on them by the government in view of the pandemic, the Calangute incident reveals that gamblers with the active support of some hotel managements have found ways to carry on their business. There is a possibility of illegal gambling activities going on at other places too. The state has also recorded quite a few cases of girls forced into prostitution being rescued and pimps caught for human trafficking over the past four months. There have been reports of rave parties continuing to be organized along the coastal belt by people allegedly with the patronage of politicians. One such party was raided recently and drugs worth lakhs seized.
That a rising number of crimes has been reported indicates that the police failed to take advantage of the lull period during the lockdown to build their information and interception networks. It is true that that was a time when the police operations were affected by the pandemic and also by their deployment for enforcement of restrictions. Yet, challenging times are the occasions when a police force is on trial, and the state police should have used the time to strengthen its vigilance in anticipation of the surfacing of the criminal gangs. It appears that the police failed to draw up the correct crime control strategies. The increase in crime shows unpreparedness of the police. It is sad to note that Goa has witnessed gang wars in the recent including the June incident in which the firing claimed the life of one of the members of the gang that had gone to attack the rival. While those involved in St Cruz shooting and murder of Margao jeweller may have been apprehended, the probes in both the cases have failed to satisfy the people. Questions have been raised on the professionalism of the police force in dealing with the criminals enjoying political patronage.