PANAJI: Amid comments from Goa's tourism minister and chief minister downplaying the sexual assault on two women from Delhi last Monday, police here on Saturday said the women were escorts and gang raped by four people.
The two women were accidentally caught in a revenge plot, police added.
Late Saturday, Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar, who had earlier dismissed the gang rape as a "stunt" and a "minor" incident, regretted his comments.
Speaking to reporters at the North Goa District headquarters superintendent of police Umesh Gaonkar said one of the five accused, Ajay Kushwa, had an axe to grind and money to recover from a pimp operating in Goa, known as Manoj, who is still missing.
The two escorts were abducted by the group and later raped by four people while they were being held for ransom from Manoj, the official added.
"The complaint of gang rape and assault has been confirmed and verified. The girls were escorts who had been hired by the main accused Ajay Kushwa from Manoj, who owed him around Rs. 1.5 lakh," Gaonkar said.
He also said that the two women were later raped by four other accomplices of Kushwa in the hotel room while the latter was "sleeping".
Five people, including Kushwa, have been arrested in connection with the gang rape, while three others, including a woman, are missing, Gaonkar said.
The incident had triggered a political controversy in the state, especially after Parulekar and Chief Minister Laxmikant Parsekar slighted the shocking gang rape in separate comments.
Parulekar on Friday had called the gang rape a "stunt", saying much was being made about it despite the fact that the accused as well as the victims were not locals.
"I have said it earlier, I am saying it again, wherever tourism activity flourishes such minor incidents happen," Parulekar had said.
The opposition also demanded Parulekar's resignation as tourism minister for the comments made by him. On Saturday, Youth Congress workers burnt the effigy of Parulekar over his comments regarding the gang rape.
Parsekar too while speaking to reporters late Friday had raised questions about the gang rape complaint.
"It is also alleged that (their) ATM cards were used and amounts were withdrawn. All these things if you chronologically understand, thereafter it is said they were raped by five people. I feel these things cannot happen in a crowded place," Parsekar had said.
Both comments triggered a controversy in the national media over the last two days. On Saturday, however, Parulekar admitted to his folly.
"About the debate in the national media over the last four days, I only have to say that if anyone in the state or country felt hurt or bad by some of the words I uttered, I take them back," Parulekar said.