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Goa in 2008: Sun, sand, sexual assaults & cover-ups

Rupesh Sawant in Panaji | December 30, 2008 11:44 IST

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Sexual assault of two foreign teenagers and allegations of a cover-up sparked law and order concerns in Goa [Images] where terror threat has hit tourist inflow during the peak season this year. However, the state with a history of political uncertainty saw the Congress-led government surviving in office despite two attempts at rebellion within the coalition.

British teenager Scarlett Eden Keeling's rape and murder and a German minor's sexual assault case grabbed international headlines and also cast a shadow on the role of the state government and police.

Scarlett's bruised semi-nude corpse was found on Anjuna beach on February 8. The initial goof-ups by Goa police investigating the case coupled with the huge media attention led to embarrassment for the state government.

Fiona, Scarlett's mother alleged the involvement of Home Minister Ravi Naik's son in the death of her daughter.

The lethargic police investigation was brought to light as Chief Justice of Bombay High Court Justice Swanter Kumar took suo motu cognizance and asked police to investigate the case properly.

Police later arrested two locals on charges of 'drugging, raping and leaving Scarlett to die on the beach.'

The state government later ordered a CBI inquiry on persistent demands by the mother, who was not satisfied by the investigation.

The dust had barely settled when a German woman accused Rohit, son of state education minister Atanasio Monserratte, and Warran Alemao, nephew of Public Works Department (PWD) Minister Churchill Alemao, of sexually exploiting her minor daughter.

The case metamorphosed into a political controversy when a group of legislators supported Monserratte and issued a veiled warning to Chief Minister Digamber Kamat, threatening to unseat him.

Rohit surrendered before police almost a month after the case was registered.

Goa stood up to its reputation when on January 16 the state saw Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) legislators along with independents revolting against the chief minister. The revolt ended after three days when Independent legislator Vishwajeet Rane betrayed the group deflating the entire episode.

The state saw unprecedented security at the end of the year post 26/11 Mumbai [Images] terror attack. This resulted in tourism losing its sheen. The tourism industry claimed that there was 20 per cent less tourists visiting the state for Christmas and New Year.

The state police has gone on high alert with intelligence inputs pointing towards a terror threat.

Home Minister Ravi Naik announced a ban on beach parties in the state between December 23 and January 5 due to safety reasons. Though he later clarified that the parties and celebrations inside hotels and other places will remain untouched but tourist inflow to the state has already dwindled.

Union Minister of State for Home Sriprakash Jaiswal later held a security review meeting on the eve of Christmas and clarified that Goa had no terror threat.

But by the time the statement was issued, it was too late as the hotels remained only half occupied.




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