Narcotics Now in Goa's Political DNA

Published: 29th March 2014 05:56 PM  |   Last Updated: 29th March 2014 05:56 PM   |  A+A-

After infecting the bloodstreams of people in coastal areas, drugs now appear to have infiltrated the DNA of Goa's politics.

The politics of narcotics has cast its shadow over the fight for the North Goa Lok Sabha seat, home to many drug joints and narcotics economy-powered coastal villages which fuel the beach tourism industry here.

One of the two key contestants here is Congress's Ravi Naik, a former home minister who, along with his son Roy, has been indicted in a legislative committee report for helping the drug trade in north Goa.

Naik and his son were also accused of involvement in the drug trade by British national Fiona MacKeown during the trial related to the death of her minor daughter who was drugged, sexually assaulted and left to die on the beach at Anjuna, considered the sanctum sanctorum of the drug trade in Goa.

Both father and son have denied the charges.

But drugs and its vice-like grip on the scheme of things here goes far beyond individuals.

While the Congress has brazened its way by naming the tainted Ravi Naik as its candidate, the good governance-boasting Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) also appears to have succumbed to psychotropic charms.

In 2010, the BJP, then in the opposition, had stalled assembly proceedings four times in a day demanding Naik's resignation as home minister and a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into his drug links.

In 2013, when a legislative committee report linked Naik to the narcotics trade, the BJP, now in power, did not care to adopt the explosive document.

More importantly, two of its legislators - Michael Lobo and Vishnu Wagh - did not even endorse the findings of the report.

Asked if the BJP government, by not adopting the report, had wavered in its commitment to fight the drug menace, former state party president Laxmikant Parsenkar gave IANS an unclear answer.

"But we did not reject the report. Now that you have told us about it, we will think of doing something about it," said Parsenkar, also the state's health minister.

The BJP candidate, three-time MP Shripad Naik, too has not been speaking about Ravi Naik's drug taint or the findings of the committee report in his public meetings.

Other candidates like Goa Democratic Front's Dayanand Narvekar have questioned both the parties on the stand.

"In Goa, everything is fixing. Both the Congress and the BJP are fixed as far as the drug trade is concerned," he said.

Narvekar, a former Congress leader, who was finance minister in the same cabinet as Ravi Naik, said that if the BJP was committed to taking on the drug mafia and their political opponents, there was no logic why the committee report was not adopted by the party.

"Both parties are playing with the lives of youngsters. Drugs in Goa are not just available in the coastline today, they are also available in small villages in the hinterland," Narvekar claimed.

Goa's drug gang wars spilt in an ugly manner on the state's roads last year after a gang from Chapora killed a Nigerian national, who according to police was also a member of a rival narcotics gang.

In response, the Nigerians blockaded a busy national highway by dumping the corpse on the road and even beating policemen who wanted to clear the road with their own batons.

Goa is one of the top narco-tourism destinations in India and is known for its easy supply of drugs, across the natural and chemical spectrum.

The threat which the narcotics industry poses to Goa is best summed up by former chief minister Pratapsing Rane, whose nearly 20-year-long regime as the top political boss incidentally saw no major offensive against the contraband.

Rane, now a leader of opposition, suggested that Goa could go the way of Mexico and Columbia if the drug cartels operating here were not checked.

"Because if you see the kind of money they are making, one day they could fight elections and we will be ruled by drug lords," Rane said.

When an issue as serious and threateningly looming as the drug trade becomes a non-starter, Goa's march to becoming India's 'Columbia' may well have begun.

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