The rains are a long way off, but dark clouds hover over paradise. And one of the world’s most idyllic leisure zones has become a hotbed of crime. Drug-runners, mafia overlords, paedophiles and sex-traffickers have spread their tentacles across the beaches of Goa — and threatening the tourism industry that is the state’s mainstay. The murder of British teenager Scarlett Keeling is the latest example.
Drugs were always part of the Goa scene, but now it’s not just the hash and marijuana of the ’70s and ’80s; nightclubs and street corners are an open market for everything from magic mushrooms to Amsterdam Ecstasy.
The rise of an opportunistic, land-grabbing Russian mafia has seen quiet bungalows and cottages taken over, often by force. Hotel suites are turned into brothels, guns are flaunted — and used. Paedophiles seem to be everywhere: ominous signs in hotel lobbies warn clients not to take children up to their rooms.
What fuels Goans’ anger is that police and government officials are often accused of abetting crime and receiving money.