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Goa gears up to take on drug mafias as tourism season kick-starts

Police in Goa claim to have been taking all measures to curb rave parties and illegal drug trade as the drug-related crimes are back to haunt the state.

india Updated: Oct 09, 2017 16:22 IST
Nida Khan
Nida Khan
Hindustan Times, Panaji
Goa rave parties,Goa tourism,Goa
As tourism season begins in India’s party capital Goa, police are gearing up to curb rave parties and illegal drug trade. (HT File Photo )

It’s a warm sunny day at Arambol village in North Goa. Complementing the weather, the local shacks and bars have come back to life after the six-month monsoon break.

But all is not bright at the village in Pernem district, known for its sweet water lake and white sand beaches as the tourism season has its own pitfall.

Arambol was in the news on late Saturday evening following a scuffle between officials of Narcotics Control Bureau and the locals.

The NCB team was reportedly assaulted by the locals when it went to raid, looking for drugs, one of the shacks in the area.

The NCB officials had to fire in the air to disperse the mob.

“One shot was fired by the NCB official to disperse the crowd. A statement of the NCB Superintendent J. Ranjan has been recorded at the Pernem police station and an FIR will be filed,” said Chandan Choudhury, superintendent of Police (North Goa).

Though drug raids and search operations in the coastal areas during the tourism season are quite common, the attack on the law enforcers was unprecedented.

“It is a matter of concern that the NCB team was attacked by a combined group of shack owners and alleged peddlers while it was on a search-cum-raid operation,” said Sudeep Dalvi, a social activist from the state.

He pointed out that villages like Anjuna on the coast of North Goa were hitherto considered as the only hotbed for drug trade. But emergence of coastal areas such as Arambol in the north and Canacona in South in the drug map of the state, shows how the contraband mafias are expanding their base even in the remote areas of the state, said Dalvi.

Till June this year Arambol recorded more than five cases of illegal drug seizures, as against 39 in the state, in which contrabands worth Rs 30 lakh were seized.

Incidentally, these seizures were made during off- season for tourism, when according to police crime rate is generally low in the state.

As the tourism season gathers momentum, the mafias are expected to comeback with full force. Already this season the state has witnessed some gruesome crimes. In August bodies of two tourists from Tamil Nadu were found lying in an open space on Vagator beach in North Goa. The cause of deaths was suspected to be drug overdose.

In September, Fisheries minister Vinod Palienkar stated that he felt threatened by the drug mafia operating in his area following his call to curb the rave parties in the beach belt of his constituency.

The growing threat even drew the attention of chief minister Manohar Parrikar, who had announced a zero tolerance policy in the monsoon session of the assembly to curb down illegal drug trade in the state.

But the latest incidents indicate that the drug mafias continue to rule the roost, allegedly due to patronage from politicians and police, as was indicated recently by ruling BJP MLA Michael Lobo.

To deal with the threat the police claimed to have been taking all possible measures.

“We are ensuring that the rave parties and illegal drug trade are curbed during this tourism season. To ensure this, regular search operations are being conducted,” said deputy inspector general of police Vimal Gupta.

The coastal state receives on an average more than five lakh tourists every year.

First Published: Oct 09, 2017 15:58 IST