Robberies, assaults, rapes, and murders – something any of our Goan ancestors and elders will confidently decline to have imagined the state witness. These atrocious crimes – here, within Goa’s distinctiveness of a ‘tranquil’ and ‘susegad’ culture – is hard to imagine this land bear witness to at such distressing rates.
Our Goa’s identity is in a crisis; a serious one indeed. At a time when we ask for serious punishment to the persons committing such crimes, we fail to understand what landed us firstly to witness these gruesome illegalities. On one hand, our state has been promoted to be the ‘Heaven on Earth’ tourist attraction, while on the other, prostitution rackets and illegal drug trades flourish at rampant speed – all under the watch of our ‘law enforcing agencies’.
Another rising trend noticed however among us, is our favorite ‘stooges’ – the non-Goans. And by this, I mean, non-Goan labor workforce, and not just everyone.
A common scenario across the state is that we blame non-Goans – usually, the migrant workforce – for all the problems within our state; be it crimes, thefts, and basic cleanliness issues. Although some may be the real troublemakers, we fail to look within us, the community around us – our Goan brothers and sisters.
The recent murder of a goldsmith at Margao shocked the state indeed, and its culprits, appear to be Goans. Besides this, the earlier crimes at Santa Cruz in June also had the involvement of Goan gangs.
A recent video of a migrant laborer from the fishing business chained to his legs by his Goan employer in Benaulim for being a nuisance also made rounds, while recently, innocent Saw Mill workers were brutally attacked in Anjuna – only because they refused to sell their goods at a reduced rate. The accused here too, appear to be local Goans. But, the amount of hate within us towards the migrant workforce – considered the ‘Bhaile’ – is spewed across all corners, although, many forget our strong dependence on this workforce for various everyday jobs in our informal sectors.
As a community, we are facing an identity crisis, as much of our ancestral way of living and growing has been left behind; and though some may rightly argue it’s a part of moving ahead,, a look behind and one will understand the type of togetherness and security one had in the yesteryears.
Today, we only wake up to headlines of crimes, murders, assaults, and atrocities against women. The state, in all its might, is losing its tag of being a safe place.
111-year old Lourdes Lobo from Bardez, having borne witness to different regimes, rightly puts is. She says that earlier, one could sleep with the doors and windows open, but once the Indians came in (post-liberation), grills and locks were a necessity.
The larger picture from the blame game we witness after crimes is the lack of fear among people to commit them and furthermore, we ignore the ones responsible for Goa’s deteriorating law and order situation.
Goa, in the name of tourism, has turned to become a hub for almost all kinds of illegal and questionable crimes, with parities and drug trades no more a surprise for any ordinary Goan. With such an image of the state, should growing crimes be any surprise? Goa’s tryst with shootouts and illegal guns has now been there for nearly two decades, and nothing seems to have changed since then as a complete lack of fear exists among criminals.
Also, our coasts – which earlier were flocked by ‘whites’ – are now being dominated by a new ‘breed’ – the rich pockets from metropolitan cities. Lands have become devoid, while concrete has taken over.
Governments have come and gone, but the ground reality continues to remain the same; cities under deplorable conditions, pathetic roads every monsoon, growing assaults and attacks, a failing economy, mass-destruction of the environment, and above all, a raging pandemic.
While solutions can be drawn from the most common persons, the governments have failed to deliver a ‘sustainable approach’, one that can benefit communities going ahead, not just for a short period. They say mining is the solution, but the rich treasures of Goa truly lie in our granaries and among our strong farming people.
In conclusion, crimes cannot be just reduced through the harshest of punishments and the best of CCTV’s and policing. What we need is collective efforts and not just a blame game; efforts that can materialise us towards being a better society, one that can respect its citizens, and help safeguard the identity of Goa that we would like it to be; an identity that can sustain our communities economically and socially.
It’s time to get working, and it begins with you and me.