Goa sleeps on explosive drug nexus report

Panaji, Dec 23: Prime Minister Narendra Modi may have expressed his outrage against growing drug addiction among India's youth, but the BJP-led coalition government in Goa may have just missed his cue.

Despite Modi's implorations on his weekly radio programme 'Mann ki Baat' to root out the terror-funding drug mafia, the state government continues to sit on an explosive legislative committee report which nails Goa's police-politician-drug mafia nexus.


The report, tabled by the head of the legislative probe committee Francisco Pacheco in 2013, describes a former police officer as an alleged "kingpin" in the nexus and links the son of a former home minister to foreigners and locals allegedly involved in drug peddling in coastal Goa.

The former minister's son, the report says, was referred to as "Boss" by Atala, an alleged Israeli drug dealer who had been arrested in connection with drug trade and is currently on bail.

Both the minister and his son have denied the findings of the report.

"The committee is of the firm opinion that the (police officer) is the kingpin in the state police structure which protected and sheltered the drug mafia," it further says, seeking a criminal probe into the nexus.

Asked why the BJP government refused to accept the legislative committee report for over a year, party vice president Wilfred Mesquita told IANS: "Does the report's acceptance bring down the menace of drugs?"

In the run up to the 2012 assembly and the 2014 Lok Sabha elections, BJP leader Shripad Naik, now a union minister of state for health, promised a CBI probe into Goa politicians' links to drug mafia.

But once in power, the BJP even refused to acknowledge the presence of organised drug gangs in Goa.

"There are no organized gangs which specializes in distribution of drugs in the state," then chief minister Manohar Parrikar told the Goa assembly in August.

This despite the fact that official police statistics accessed by IANS showed that from 2011-13, one drug dealer or drug den was busted by police every week.

Michael Lobo, a BJP legislator from Calangute, a coastal party hotspot in Goa which accounts for a large chunk of the three million tourists who visit the state every year, said: "The Nigerian and Russian mafia are going unchecked because police are scared of them.

"The Nigerians are very organized. If you go into Tito's lane at night, there are Nigerians openly asking tourists if they want 'coca', which is the street name of cocaine," Lobo said.

Congress spokesperson Sunil Kawthankar told IANS that BJP legislators had been representing coastal constituencies like Siolim, home to beaches like Anjuna, Vagator, Chapora and Mandrem which represents beach villages like Arambol, Morjim and Mandrem, for 10-15 years.

"Narcotics have flourished under their very noses for more than a decade. Can this happen without political support?" Kawthankar asked.


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