By SANJAY BORKAR
PANAJI: To make the ‘Atithi Devo Bhava’ (Guest is equal to God) concept meaningful in the coastal state, the Goa government has taken several measures and has started acting swiftly on the complaints of tourists who were either attacked or looted.
Also, with the state’s debt pegged at Rs 24,175.93 crore and mining operations yet to resume in the coastal state, the government is focusing on the tourism sector and the safety of tourists.
The incidents where tourists were attacked either by the locals or the hotel staff, are being dealt with in a proactive manner. The government has also come up with the concept of providing unique stickers to tourists entering the state to avoid harassment by the police.
With cases reported of tourists being assaulted by hotel staff, Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has asked hoteliers to obtain a ‘Goa Labour Card’ before employing staff and check their criminal antecedents, if any.
Recently two incidents of hotel staff attacking foreign women tourists were reported from North Goa.
On Thursday Abhishek Verma, 27, a native of Uttarakhand, working as a bartender in a resort in Pernem-North Goa, was arrested for allegedly attacking a foreign woman tourist staying in the resort.
“Hoteliers should obtain a ‘Goa Labour Card’ for their staff when they engage them. This will help to have their permanent address saved with the labour department. Don’t engage staff with criminal records. We have seen that hotel staff are involved in such crimes. Police are investigating this case,” Sawant said.
“Such incidents should not take place. Police are taking action but hoteliers should also take measures,” Sawant said.
According to the police, on Wednesday night the accused person trespassed into the rented tent of the complainant (a foreign woman tourist) and subsequently, she raised an alarm. The accused tried to catch her and threatened her. When local resident Eurico Dias came to her rescue the accused ran away.
“Thereafter, the accused person returned with a knife and assaulted Dias and the woman tourist and then fled from the spot,” North Goa Superintendent of Police Nidhin Valsan said.
Earlier, on March 25, two persons who are natives of Assam and Jharkhand and were working as a waiter and an electrician in a hotel in North Goa, were arrested for allegedly trying to rob a Russian national in his hotel room.
The incident of a Japanese tourist being robbed on a beach late last year by three men impersonating police officers jolted the tourism sector. However, the Goa police acted swiftly and nabbed the robbers.
In another incident on March 5, Ashwini Kumar Chandrani, 47, from Delhi was assaulted by a local gang, injuring him and his family members.
After this incident went viral on social media and raised questions about the safety of tourists, the police swiftly arrested the accused persons.
In another form of harassment of tourists, they were stopped by the police to check their vehicle documents and were fined. The ruling party members and ministers had said that such things should be stopped.
Chief Minister Pramod Sawant, taking cognizance of such harassment announced the new concept of providing stickers to the tourists to fix on their vehicles so they are not harassed by the police while driving around the coastal state.
Sawant added that the papers of the tourists vehicles will be checked at the border check posts.
“In order to allow tourists comfortable movement across the state, vehicles entering Goa will be checked at the border for the documents and will be given unique stickers to fix on their vehicles. Such vehicles will not be stopped (by the police) for checking documents anywhere in the state,” Sawant said.
Tourists had been complaining on social media that they were stopped to check their vehicles’ papers and were harassed.
A few months ago, Revenue Minister Atanasio Monserrate had said that the traffic police were harassing tourists by fining them, instead of solving the traffic problems.
“I see police constables standing at one corner only and handing out challans to tourists, they do nothing more than that. They are basically here to solve the traffic problems, but they are not doing that,” Monserrate had said.
Tourism Minister Rohan Khaunte had also said that tourists are being routinely harassed in Goa by the traffic police. He had stated that efforts would be made to make the state and its environs more hospitable to tourists.
By SANJAY BORKAR