When Svetlana Kuzain (name changed to protect identity) landed in Goa with her husband and daughter two days before Christmas, she was looking forward to quiet times meditating, pursuing yoga and visiting Sathya Sai Baba’s Ashram at Puttaparti, Andhra Pradesh.
Instead, the 34-year-old Ayurveda exponent from Moscow is struggling to get justice for her nine-year-old daughter who was allegedly raped on a beach in the tourist hot spot.
“I can recognise them even with my eyes closed,” a dazed Svetlana said in heavily accented English her counsel Vikram Varma helped decipher.
It was a breezy evening on January 26. Svetlana said she was relaxing on Kolam beach ( less than 2 km from Arambol beach in N Goa). “My daughter was swimming in the shallow waters at a short distance from where I sat,” said Svetlana, speaking to HT in Varma’s Porborim office. Her daughter was playing with Varma’s staff. “I saw Anil was swimming while Aman sat near me.”
Svetlana said Aman asked her name and where she was from. “I told him that I did not know English. He persisted but I kept quiet,” Svetlana said.
“After some time, Anil came out of the water along with my daughter. Aman then got up and went to Anil. The duo went to the rocks near the shore and started discussing something,” she said.
The little girl went back for a swim. “I saw Aman enter the water while Anil sat near me. He tried to start a conversation, but I was not interested…When I looked up from the book I was reading, I saw Aman grab my daughter. I could not see what he was doing, but I could see, from behind the rock on which Aman was leaning, my daughter struggle to break free.”
Svetlana called out to the girl who managed to free herself from Aman’s clutches and swim to the shore. “She came to me, sat down and started crying,” the distraught mother said.
The girl told her mother that Aman had taken her behind the rocks and sexually abused her. “I was traumatised and did not know how to react.” Anil asked her what had happened. “I told him his friend had done a bad thing to my daughter.”
The mother and daughter went to the hotel, and later approached the police.
Svetlana said she always cherished India as “the land of spiritual salvation”. “Though the incident has shaken my confidence, I like this country,” she said. “I will return because I want to live in the Ashram.”
This is the family’s second visit to India in two years.