The recent murder of Scarlett Keeling, 15, has drawn the curtains from the dark world of drugs that exists scandalously on the surface of society. On the beaches of Goa, Scarlett was seduced into consuming cocaine by Placido Carvalho, a local drug dealer and Samson D’Souza, a bartender. The latter went onto allegedly rape her repeatedly and then left her to drown in the seas.
While this case has drawn immense media coverage both in India and in Britain, it has been recently more focussed on Scarlett’s mother, Fiona MacKeown, being a negligent mother. In the face of grief and distress, the single mother of nine children is now grappling with increasing reports in the British press that accuse her of being a careless mother and condemn her trip to Gokarna, Karnataka, that made her leave her child behind in the hands of the predators. Vehemently refuting these allegations, Fiona has been asserting herself as a most caring and loving mother, and her friends and family are standing firmly by her side, a testimony of her sincerity. Justifying herself, Fiona has been screaming from the rooftops, to all who may care to listen, that the only reason that she trusted her daughter in the hands of the local tour guide is because the latter had been very warm and friendly to the family and she could never in her wildest imagination, have foreseen such a calamity to befall her family. However, a fact that cannot be disputed is that no matter how ‘negligent’ or ‘inattentive’ Fiona may have been, it gave the accused no right whatsoever to rape or murder the teenager. This case is important for having unmasked the frightful face of drugs that has made Goa infamous. More than the drugs itself, it was the criminalisation of drugs that led to the death of Scarlett Keeling. This led to a subsequent cover-up by the local police who allegedly worked in collaboration with the drug mafia (mainly from Russia and Israel, but with operations set up in the Indian states) wherein it was ruled that the death of the 15 year old had occurred due to drowning. This case has been responsible for several officials placing their doubts on the ‘accident’ cases that have been closed by the local police – ones that would now resurface and be investigated further, in order to view a potential drug connection or an official cover-up. Scarlett’s murder opens up a Pandora’s box with several questions rising. The primary question rests on a libertarian viewpoint – is the banning of a substance/element the best way to deal with it? One might have banned several items including drugs, tobacco, alcohol and pornography, however, does that essentially manage to bring these elements to a complete halt? The answer, obviously, is no.People who wish to smoke, continue to do so inspite of the printed statutory warnings, alcohol is consumed by all those who wish to, and pornography is one of the most thriving and lucrative businesses inspite of several attempts to cease it. Moreover, the issue remains with items such as tobacco and alcohol that the government will never fully ban them due to the high revenue that is earned for the government treasury against these substances.Thus, the easy availability of these substances proves to be a huge deterrent in reducing their usage. In India, erratic and piecemeal attempts at prohibition in various parts of the country have been responsible greatly for controlled bootlegging, rampant corruption, gang wars and liquor deaths. With respect to drugs, it has now been established what was known from the very beginning but was refused to be acknowledged – Goa is a haven for drug traffickers and a location for one of the most rampant usage of illegal substances. Scarlett Keeling has been instrumental in juxtaposing society with reality, at the cost of her own life. With unrequited justice soon to be meted out to several ‘closed’ cases that might have escaped the eye of suspicion, the Keeling murder has finally raised the sleeping dragon. Reports state that Fiona MacKeown wants to settle in Goa in the future. With remembrances of her daughter and the horrific episodes that the family endured, it might just become helpful in cornering the drug mafia and rendering justice to several other victims. Shayoni Sarkar
(Image Courtesy – http://www.sciam.com/media/externalnews/2008-02-05T155526Z_01_NOOTR_RTRIDSP_2_HEALTH-DRUGS-DC.jpg)