Boiling with Rage!

By Dr Oscar Rebelo
08 November 2013 13:32 IST

31st October 2013, must surely be a red letter day in Goa’s turbulent history. The seedy under belly of Goa’s economy and politics hitherto, hidden in the darkness of Goa’s drug streets, on the beach belt, spilled over onto Main Street. Every carnal emotion was unleashed with all its naked fury and the TV cameras and the Goan public logged in, to watch the horror with palpable relish.

Let’s get one thing straight

No one – repeat no one – covered themselves in glory, that fateful Thursday.

Firstly, the protesters of African descent (now loosely branded Nigerians) cannot be forgiven, for the brazen spectacle, they created of themselves. Smashing public property, jostling and abusing cops, blocking highways cannot be a mode of protest, however, serious your grievance. No question, the protesters cast the first stone. No sympathy for them.

Secondly, the locals.  Nothing but nothing gave the mob, the license to thrash the living daylights out of the “Nigerians”.

Whatever the level of provocation, we cannot take the law into our own hands. Something surely snapped in the otherwise “sussegad” Goan mind that morning. Our space and peace was now being defiled with such shocking impurity that something had to be done to let off steam. But, even if the sentiment is understandable, the violent brutal action that followed was WRONG!! Plain and uncompromisingly wrong.

Lastly, in the cast of characters, the third end of the triangle (Golden triangle??) that covered itself in abysmal shame, were our jolly cops of course. Unprepared, ill motivated, politically compromised and totally clueless. Smashing an under trial in judicial or police custody in the darkness of the night is easy. To take on rioters in broad daylight, now that’s a different kettle of fish! So, instead of making pathetic excuses for their sheer incompetence our finger wagging, KRISH 4 Home minister must crack the whip to make them pull up their socks and enforce the law.

31st October is a day that careened crazily out of control. And all players, must demonstrate some form of contrition for probably unplanned and not deliberately malafide acts, if any lessons are to be learnt.

What was agonizing and dismaying, was how things unfolded from the 1st November 2013.


Now, with benefit of hindsight and with no immediate provocation, many of us, otherwise completely tolerant Goans dug into our worst racial instincts, and condemned the African race to the worst form of derogatory and downright mean abuse possible. On social media and newspapers; in cafes and taverns; in gram Sabhas and channa masala stalls.

The facile argument went thus:  Nigerians run the drug trade, hence Goans, disapproving of the drug trade went into battle mode, taught them a lesson and won the “war”.

No one of course cares to address the flip side of that argument. Thousands of true, blue blooded Goans are also involved in the drug trade (and of course, the illegal mining, prostitution and other trades). But then have we smashed ourselves black and blue by this logic? When is it that we are going to war with ourselves??

Whatever his other glorious gaffes and famous flippety flops, our chief minister, for once, at least got this instinctively right.

It was much easier for him to pander to the local voter base (Nigerians don’t vote here, do they?) but he claimed that the law would take its own course whosoever the culprit.

So the exercise of deporting all (hopefully all and not just the blacks) foreigners without valid visas and business permits is on (Right in law); the arrest of culprits in the Nigerian murder case is on (Right in law); the identification of locals who were most brutal in their attacks is hopefully on (Right in law) and the overlooking of trivial offences by all sides is also probably a good idea.

In all this, we are perhaps moving, on the highway of justice, reasonably well. But frankly this is the easy part.

The two notoriously difficult issues to handle, which we will sweep conveniently under the carpet, are these:

1. The authorities will not clean up the drug trade completely, because much of the political economy runs on those rails and why derail a perfectly chugging engine, even if it’s emitting noxious smoke.

2. We will continue to blame the “outsider” for all our ills and forgive all our “insider” brothers and sisters who perpetrate the same ills.

Postscript: To the low level Nigerian diplomat who threatened to throw out Indians from Nigeria, if this incident was not addressed to his satisfaction there is only so much to say.

Just as all people of African descent don’t do drugs in Goa, and the vast majorities are ordinary decent folk, all Goans are also not racist in their ideology. The vast majority of us are ordinary decent folk.

The only thing we need to fix is our justice system. That it should be essentially blind (yes even color blind) to all considerations other than the law.

If we can fix this as a society, trust me, no other “FIX” will give us such a permanent high.

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Dr Oscar Rebelo

Dr Oscar Rebelo is one of the leading social activist of Goa and a practicing doctor. He led the historic peoples’ movement in 2006-07 to get the anti-Goa Regional Plan scrapped and save Goa from total destruction of Goa’s ecology and natural beauty. He is a Goa-based leader of Aam Aadmi Party. He is also a columnist.

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No one can condone what happened on 'That Fateful Thursday '. No matter from where we are,Outsider ,Insider, Foreigner ,Goan, Black, Brown, White, Yellow , A line was crossed.,but what is sad in all this spectacle is the 'Finger Pointing'. Narrowing down and degrading a particular sect,Eminent Figures who can say what they want, turning and twisting of words.Why is it 'the Black People ' or as we call ,'Nigerians,Why can't our petty minds be outraged with every individual breaking a law and not forgetting 'Every Outsider' having 'An Insider' on his right hand.Every Individual no matter what colour, without valid documents.Its time for us to start looking beyond and realize the problem is not out there but it is with us.

A big pat on the back to Dr. Oscar Rebello (not that he needs one,but it is nice to tell someone when they are making a difference ) for raising his views on NDTV .Proud to know that there are still Goans who have THE GUTS!!

- Tina ann dessouza, Mapusa | 09 th November 2013 00:03


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