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HindustanTimes Sun,20 Apr 2014

Gone from Goa: tourist state bans dance bars

AFP  Panaji, August 16, 2013
First Published: 16:41 IST(16/8/2013) | Last Updated: 13:53 IST(17/8/2013)

Goa, the popular holiday state, has announced a ban on dance bars, further restricting the party scene in a destination once famous as a raver's paradise.

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The state has progressively tightened controls on nightclubs and outdoor parties over the last few years after a series of high-profile crimes including the rape and murder of a British teenager in 2008. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar has made cleaning up Goa's palm tree-lined beaches a priority to make them more family-friendly.

"Dance bars will not be allowed in Goa. There has been a lot of image-beating for the state due to the existence of drugs and prostitution on the beaches. We will clean it up," Parrikar announced on Thursday.

His administration has initiated a string of measures to safeguard foreign tourists and has ordered police to remain present on the beaches until midnight. Previously police would withdraw after sunset. Goa -- once a laid-back hippy beach hangout known for drugs, free love and music -- retains an image as a free-wheeling oasis in straitlaced India and draws 2.3 million foreign and domestic visitors annually.

But its sleazy and criminal sides were exposed in 2008 by the death of 15-year-old British teenager Scarlett Keeling, who was raped by two men and left for dead after she consumed a cocktail of illegal drugs at a beach cafe.

Her death prompted a crackdown on nightclubs and rave parties, with many forced to close or finish early. "Silent discos"--in which party-goers wear headphones to listen to the music -- have developed as a way to work around the restrictions on outdoor noise.

Local activists say prostitution has also mushroomed in the state in recent years.



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