Goa -- one of the most popular tourist destinations in India -- is fast gaining a reputation for murder, rape and drug trafficking. In the most recent scandal, a mother has withdrawn rape accusations against a cabinet minister’s son.
Goa's beaches are popular with foreign tourists
In recent months, sun, sea and feni, the local brew, have turned into a lethal cocktail in Goa that has seen a spate of sexual attacks on tourists, especially women.
The crimes have tarnished Goa's reputation as a beach vacation destination and led to announced crackdowns against drugs and drinking, which are both very prevalent in the state’s tourist resorts.
Earlier this week, an unnamed German woman who had alleged that her under-aged daughter had been raped by education minister Atanasio Monserrate’s son Rohit and sexually abused by works department minister Churchill Alemao’s nephew Warren decided to withdraw her complaint, to the surprise of many.
In her letter to the police, the German woman said that the whole system had failed her and she was upset by the way authorities were treating her and her daughter as the accused. At the end, she pointed out that she did not want another unnatural death, referring to the case of a British teenager, who was raped and killed earlier this year.
British teenager raped and killed
In February, the bruised and partially clothed body of Scarlett Keeling, was found on a beach in northern Goa. Police initially said Keeling had drowned because she was drunk, but pressure from her family forced a second autopsy that showed she was raped and killed.
Despite the German mother’s turnaround, Goa’s superintendant of police, Bosco John, said that investigations would continue now that the complaint had been lodged and the police had “taken cogniscense of it”.
“Now [that we are] in the process, if someone -- even the complainant -- comes to withdraw the complaint, there can be no such thing as withdrawal. The investigation will continue and it will go to its logical end. If we have sufficient evidence against the accused, we will file a charge sheet. If we don’t, we will still file a report before the courts.”
In her complaint, the German mother said she had received threats and offensive text messages calling on her to withdraw her complaint but she did not say from whom.
Incredible India is losing its shine
The year 2008 has seen half a dozen cases of rape and molestation reported from Goa, Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh and Kerala.
India's tourism ministry is slowly reacting to the increasingly growing threat of rapes and molestations on foreigners as it realizes its Incredible India campaign is somewhat losing its shine. It is has now decided to set up dedicated teams of tourist police in some of the hotspots and to keep a keen eye on women tourists.
The two high profile cases have certainly been a setback for local tourism.
If the authorities want Goa to improve its record of providing safety to lone women and couples seeking privacy, it will have to do more as otherwise it could soon be perceived as a land of sun, sand and sin.