Police gear up to counter two Cs harassing tourists

| 08 November 1999 23:05 IST

It is an impression throughout the world that two Cs – cops and cabs – operate as extortionist agencies in Goa. There are firm grounds to believe it too.

Hopefully, this impression would be wiped out if the police department succeeds in its mission.

R S Sahay, the director general of police, appears to have flexed his muscles to deal with the menace firmly. If he succeeds, it would be a real relief for the tourists coming to Goa, as the season has just begun.

"I have made the respective police officers and higher officials directly accountable for any injustice done to any tourist or the illegality committed in his area. They will have to face stringent action", says Sahay with conviction.

While it is a touring season for the rest of the World, November is the beginning of the looting season for the taxi drivers here, mostly the white Maruti vans known as tourist taxis. The meter is out of fashion in this coastal state.

While the system here is to charge per km basis, cabs charge double and even triple the official rate of Rs seven per km. Similar is the case with rickshaws and even the hired motorcycles – the unique system operating in Goa.

"We will fully co-operate with the police with our officials also moving into action if any cab driver is seen violating the law", says A T Kamat, the transport director. They have now give special contact numbers only to deal with such complaints.

The department is planning to put up hoardings in prominent places as well as posters displaying official fares at the air port, railway stations, bus stands as well as hotels. Advertisements are also being released through local newspapers.

Similar is the case with the police, who normally target the foreign tourists carrying foreign exchange. Planting drugs on them, foreign exchange is extorted from them failing which they have to face minimum ten years of imprisonment.

Changing their attitude unlike in the past when such things were flatly denied, Sahay does not rule out the possibility of frame-ups. "I am taking all possible precautions so that such incidents do not occur", he says.

Even bringing the tourist police under the department from this year, the local police officials in the coastal belt are made directly accountable for any such illegality while the district SPs are held responsible for the rest of the state.

To make the tourists aware of stringent punishments for possessing or consuming drugs or holding / attending the acid parties or even playing music beyond 10 pm, the police department is planning special posters, to be put up everywhere, listing out Dos and Don'ts.

"We also want to clear the wrong impression that Goa is a place for 'unlimited fun' of any kind, may it be drugs, acid parties or child abuse", quips Sahay. The department is also browsing several INTERNET sites, used by raves from abroad to advertise acid parties in Goa.

Though the state departments appear quite sincere to do away with the menace, the real headache is the political patronage such illegal acid parties receive from the local sarpanch or the legislators and even the ministers. There is no way to deal with it.

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