Goa Fisheries Minister Vinod Palienkar has said that he was forced to stop morning walks on Anjuna beach in North Goa and instead do yoga at home after he sensed he was stalked by men associated with the “Goan drug mafia”, and has called for checking tourists and their cars to put a stop to narcotics trafficking. Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar, while not trying to dismiss the minister’s fears as speculation, said, “Threat is his perception.” Palienkar, MLA of NDA ally Goa Forward Party from the Siolim constituency, where Anjuna lies, said he has issued instructions to the police to stop any music and rave parties on the beach after 10 pm.
While the minister has asked the local police to frisk tourists, if needed, after a certain cut-off time in the evening, the police say they will have to look at “how best to do it” because all tourists cannot be frisked in a state so dependent on tourism.
Interacting with the media on the sidelines of an event on Wednesday evening, Parrikar said, “The police have to ensure that there is no threat. There is a special branch, a special committee which analyses this — they will take appropriate (action) and provide what security is required.”
Parrikar also said that calling the minister’s fears as speculation would be wrong, and that the people trailing Palienkar “may have wanted to talk to him, or maybe they were a threat, since the minister thinks he raised the (drugs) issue”. About the perceived threat, Palienkar said, “I sensed on certain mornings that some men were following me. I sensed the subtle threat. It became difficult… I do not venture out on the beach any longer. It’s not safe,” he said. The Opposition Congress asked how the security apparatus would protect the average citizen if a minister feels threatened, but Palienkar claimed he has come under “threat” since the time he started himself calling up police and informing them about locations of parties where drugs were allegedly used.
While the government is looking into his latest allegation, Palienkar said, “I have asked for a platoon of the Indian Reserve Battalion to keep watch at the borders of my constituency. I have asked them to search all tourists — if needed, body checks as well. Their vehicles need to be checked…. How else will anyone know who the carrier (of narcotics) is?”
Senior police officers confirmed that Palienkar had asked for sealing of his constituency in the evening during the tourist season. “We have to look for ways to bring regulation. We cannot just do body checks or search all vehicles for drugs,” an officer said. “The state earns from tourism and there are privacy issues that will arise if we start all these checks. We will have to deliberate how best to go about this.”