There is a paradigm shift in the crime scene of the state since the Liberation of Goa from the Portuguese regime in 1961.
Goa has been a testimony to negligible crime cases during the early years after the Liberation and cyber crimes, frauds and violence against women and schoolgirls in the recent past.
There has been a tremendous rise in criminal activities in Goa: from hi-tech crimes to crimes against women and girls and from everyday daylight burglaries to coconut and wood thefts.
The rise of criminal activities is often attributed to influx of migrants from other Indian states, who come to Goa in search of greener pastures.
In the past people used to feel below their dignity to step either in a police station or court and most of them used to approach their priests, mullahs or village elders for redressal of their family disputes, caste-based discriminations, street brawls or feudal feuds. There were no encroachments or fights for land as landlords wanted people to occupy their land for maintenance and preservation.
Now, thanks to education and awareness, even women from villages walk freely to police stations and lodge sexual abuse complaints, which are often registered under Goa Children’s Act, Immoral Trafficking (Prohibition) Act, and the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act, 2012.
No doubt there were no major crimes soon after Goa’s Liberation, but people often used to steal bicycles and pluck tender coconuts. Flesh trade used to be run secretly to maintain financial status of a family. However, today prostitution has become the most lucrative business for pimps and commercial sex workers in the state. Women of different nationalities and from various Indian states are offered to the prospective customers.
After the government cracked down on flesh trade at Baina in Mormugao taluka and at Tambdi Mati in Panaji, prostitution raised its ugly head again in the form of beauty parlours, which cater to the needs of sex-starved people from all over the country.
The fear of police was such that during those days one policeman was enough to man a police station. Now, gangsters and organised criminals commit crimes in the broad daylight, which has called for stricter policing.
The double murder of a city extortionist and a coconut seller at Miramar; the murder of Pandial; the arrest of paedophile Freddy Peats, who sexually abused children; the death of Scarlet Keeling, who was found dead due to overdose of drugs on the seashore; the gang-rape of a student in the Government Polytechnic College toilet at Altinho and the most recent case of rape of a seven-year-old schoolgirl in a Vasco school toilet had triggered public outrage in Goa.
Crime has become an organised activity. We find many crimes committed by highly educated persons by forging fake certificates and by cheating teenagers in non-banking financial operations. Youths are cheated by the educated accused, who lure them of jobs abroad. Often youth masquerade as policemen and rob the gullible people.
The educated criminals turn to Internet and mobile phones to swindle the people of their money.
After the end of Portuguese rule all communities largely lived peacefully, intermingling without any kind of discrimination and distinction. But in the recent past the state witnessed communal violence in Sanvordem-Curchorem. Goa also witnessed bomb explosion too on the eve of Diwali in Margao.
The DIG, Dr Omprakash Mishra informed that in order to deal with rising crimes, the Goa police were forced to modernise policing. They set up dog squad and bomb disposal squad. Now, the Goa police have cyber cell, ANC, women cell, anti-terrorist squad, the Marine police and the Coastal police.
The ITP Act, Goa Children’s Act and Protection of Children from Sexual Offences Act 2012 and other laws are invoked to fight the crime.
Regretfully, even after 50 years of Goa’s Liberation from the Portuguese the Goa police do not have police manual of their own and they still rely on the Maharashtra police manual. However, the state has managed to create India Reserve Battalion and inducted 10 per cent women security personnel. But to be fair to the police force, policemen often have risen to the occasion and cracked many difficult cases. [NT]