Making Goa Safe

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Police must stop flow of illegal firearms into state

Yet another undertrial has escaped from the custody of the Colvale central jail staff. The escape on Tuesday is the third one to be reported from Goa’s central jail in the last five months. According to the records, the fugitive undertrial Vivek Gautam was caught in cases of dacoity and trespass and lodged in the central jail. He allegedly feigned sickness and was taken to district hospital in an ambulance and was escorted by two police constables. After check-up the doctor prescribed him medicines and he was to be escorted back to the jail. Surprisingly, the ambulance that was to take him back to the jail was parked at a distance, which made the escort team walk towards it. As they walked to the parking lot two persons who were Gautam’s accomplices sprayed pepper in the eyes of the police and in the melee that followed the prisoner managed to free himself and made good his escape on a waiting bike. An attempt to capture the fleeing criminals by the police failed as the trio fired at them.

From the sequence of events that have come to the fore after the escape of the prisoner Gautam it is evident that the escape was preplanned. The disappearance of the ambulance driver after dropping the undertrial makes him a suspect as an accomplice to the crime. The escape, which apparently was planned while the prisoner was in jail, indicates that the prisoners have access to communication with their accomplices outside the jail. How else could his accomplices be waiting with pepper spray for him at the parking lot? There have been several instances of mobile phones being found in the possession of the inmates of the jail in the past and used by them. Despite seizures of some phones they apparently continue to be made available to the prisoners. Such instances cannot occur without the patronage and connivance of the jail officials. There have been cases of jail staff and police personnel being caught trying to smuggle narcotics and other substances. Despite talks of a stricter regime going on for a long time the government has failed to put in a system to prevent illegalities in jail.

This is the third instance of country-made firearms being used by criminals in the last six months this year. In July a gang war broke out in Santa Cruz in which members of a gang, aiming to attack their rivals, ended up firing at and killing one of their own members. In September a jeweller from Margao was killed in broad daylight and the gang involved in the crime was found with a country-made firearm. In the Tuesday case a country-made pistol was used by the accused to facilitate their escape. Use of illegal firearms is on the rise in the state which is a matter of grave concern. The law enforcement agencies have not been able to detect illegal firearms. It is only after a crime is committed that the police comes to know of possession of such arms. There is a possibility of firearms procured through illegal channels being in the possession of several criminals.

As use of illegal firearms and escape of prisoners from the jail have been happening often in the state, the authorities need to take effective measures to ensure safety of the general public as these criminals are a threat to the Goan society. Besides, there have been reports of the illegal arms being used for hunting of wild animals. Though police have managed to solve most of the heinous crimes in the state, Goans would be able to heave sigh of relief only if the criminal activities are prevented through smart policing and intelligence gathering. Though police cannot be omnipresent there is need to create fear among the criminals through some intelligent methods and preempting their moves. Electronic gadgets, including CCTV cameras can go a long way in recording activities of the criminals and nabbing them. In order to save Goa from criminals the government should install CCTV cameras at strategic points. Above all, the police must stop the flow of illegal firearms into the hands of gangsters in the state.