Drowning In Paradise

hippy.jpgOnce a bishop told me that, “You must always remember, as far as the Bible is concerned, God always threw humans out of paradise.” The recent Goa rape case has raised a lot of questions doubting the security in the paradise state of India, whose economy thrives on its tourism industry.

Goa, the Portuguese influenced center in India, and a former union territory, termed as the twenty fifth state in 1987, is 1,429 sq miles of paradise on the western coast of the Indian peninsula. Almost more than half the economy of the state is dependent on the tourism industry, making it the dream Indian holiday for any vacationer. Unfortunately, today this paradise is nothing else but a tawdry zoo-market of veggie and chemical kundalini, Che T-shirts, Tibetan exile-ware and shacks and more shacks legal or illegal drugs. The tourism industry is dogged by the fear of losing business, thanks to all the wrong reasons it has been making news for. The death of the 15-year-old teenager, who was raped in Goa near Anjuna beach, raised a lot of questions on the law and order authorities, especially their responsibility towards the safety of the tourists.The girl’s body was found on February 18th near the beach side and the police termed the case as a death due to drowning.

However, during the second autopsy of the body it was found that she was drugged, brutally raped and then thrown into the shallow waters which aided to her death. Now let’s see the case a bit more closely. Scarlett Keeling, the British teenager had been holidaying in Goa for the last six months. Her mother Fiona Mckeown had gone down south for her trip to Karnataka leaving her teenaged daughter in the care of a guide. Let us wait a second here, am I getting it all wrong, because something here doesn’t seem right. Let’s check up the history of Keeling. The family of nine traveled a lot, and seemed to have a nomadic lifestyle. Keeling was supposedly had a Goan boyfriend during her stay and was under the care of a guide, who at the end, was just another stranger.

On February 18th, she was at the Lui shack allegedly stoned on LSD and Cocaine. Samson D’souza the shack’s bartender, the main accused left the bar with her at 4 am when she was in a state of intoxication. Just stop and think…. So who’s at fault here? Statistics say that Goa has the fastest growing economy in India (approximately 8.23%), the tourist boom in Goa has raised the demand for booze and drugs, the demand has to be met by a supply and that’s the reason why the tourists are openly rolling joints and smoking up; something their country’s administration would lock them up for. The easy availability of these drugs is ensured by a nexus between the local guides and the drug peddlers who supply their ‘wares’ to the tourists. The tourists are inviting trouble for themselves as they only see Goa as a place to get a cheap fix of booze and drugs.Now let us turn our attention towards the authorities.

A postmortem examination concluded that Scarlett drowned and police have arrested D’souza who confessed. Mrs McKeown, not satisfied by the story given to her by the police, has protested to senior state officials and has appealed to the CBI as well. The authorities tried to cover up the case with false theories but didn’t succeed. The Goa police has also suspended the original investigating officer, Nerlon Albuquerque, for lapse of investigation. Whatever said and done, the fact still remains that a crime has been committed.

The tourists, firstly, should be careful and more than that, responsible and alert, knowing the prevalent drug culture in Goa. Without sounding didactic, the parents should be more careful and protective about their children in a foreign land. Keeling was a minor, who was staying all alone in a strange land when her mom was touring South India. The state authorities too, should have a strict check on the drug peddlers and lastly, keep Goa alive as a paradise.

Aakanksha Ahluwalia

[Image courtesy: http://www.flickr.com/search/?q=Goa]