By Sanjay Borkar
Panaji, Mar 5 (IANS): The incident of a Japanese tourist being robbed on a beach late last year by three men impersonating police officers in a very filmy style jolted the tourism sector. To save the state's image from getting tarnished the Goa police acted swiftly and nabbed the robbers.
According to stakeholders in the tourism sector such incidents bring a bad name to the state and tourists take away a wrong image of the state. Hence, there is a need for such cases to be solved soon.
Travel and Tourism Association of Goa (TTAG) president Nilesh Shah told IANS that the government should take immediate action in such cases. "With such incidents the tourism area gets affected. In the long term wrong information goes to foreign countries and when tourists plan to come down to Goa it can have an effect," he said.
According to him, crimes happen everywhere, but action should be taken. "This way trust can be rebuilt. Goa police are quite efficient, they should be vigilant and take immediate action," he said.
He said that tourists complain about such incidents to the tourism office and also on the helpline.
A senior police officer on the condition of anonymity said that sometimes the cases are taken lightly and the process is delayed.
"But in this case North Goa Superintendent of Police acted swiftly on the complaint by this Japanese tourist and police nabbed the accused persons. Today police are lauded for such quick action," he said.
Goa Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte has announced a Rs 50,000 reward for the state police for swiftly solving the case of the Japanese tourist.
The BJP government in Goa had came under attack from the opposition after the Consulate General of Japan in Mumbai recently issued an advisory to tourists from the country, saying that there have been incidents of fraud and robbery in which Japanese tourists were victims near Anjuna beach, and asked their nationals to be careful.
Khaunte said that this Japanese tourist had not complained to the Anjuna police when the advisory was issued. "However, our police acted on his tweets and solved the case. Goa is a tourist spot and we need to give good experiences to tourists by ensuring their safety. I am happy that the police have acted. I compliment the police for ensuring speedy justice to Japanese tourists and hence I announce a reward of Rs 50,000 to them," he said.
"These accused persons are not from Goa, they are from north India. Police have handled this case well," he said, adding a reward is announced to motivate the police to act in such cases.
The arrested individuals have been identified as Raju a.k.a. Wasim Khan, 25, Romy a.k.a. Chandbabu, 33, from Jaipur and Tahir, also from Rajasthan.
The police had received a complaint through e-mail and tweets from Japanese tourist Tatsuki Teramoto, who mentioned that on December 28, 2022, some unknown persons impersonating police officers restrained him and stole his credit cards, debit cards, iPhone, Indian currency of Rs 30,000 and Japanese currency amounting to 1,50,000 Yen.
The accused used the credit cards and debit cards at various stores, causing a loss of Rs 9,43,000 to the complainant.
Putting full focus and efforts on the revival of the tourism economy after the drop due to the Covid pandemic, the Goa government is trying to ensure a safe environment for tourists visiting the coastal state by ending the menace of touts and illegal activities taking place on the seashores.
One of the measures announced by the government is the police patrolling the beaches in 'civilian clothes'.
The government has launched a beach Vigil App to keep watch on activities taking place on the beaches. Through this App stakeholders and the public can report incidents which affect the tourism industry.
Be it littering, drinking or cooking on the beach, hawkers, illegal structures, sound pollution, driving vehicles on the beach, touts engaged in various activities, all can be reported and action sought.
The government was forced to take these measures after constant complaints from tourism stakeholders that touts and those involved in illegal activities harass the tourists.
To ensure that crime does not take place in the tourism belt, the government has decided to establish more police stations and deploy additional police forces in the beach areas.
Tourists being robbed on the beaches is not the only issue. The alleged harassment meted out to them by the traffic police while moving in the state is also an issue. The cabinet ministers were forced to speak about it and ask the police to stop such harassment.
Earlier, Goa Revenue Minister Atanasio Monserrate had said that the traffic police were harassing tourists by fining them, instead of solving traffic problems existing in the coastal state.
"I see police constables standing at one corner only and giving challans to tourists and they do nothing more than that. They are basically here to solve the traffic problem, but they are not doing that," Monserrate said.
He said that to resolve the issue of traffic jams, he often discusses the issue with the traffic police, but 4 to 5 constables stand at one place to challan tourists.
Even Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte had claimed that the tourists are being routinely harassed by the traffic police. He had said that efforts would be made to make the state and its environs more hospitable to tourists.