Wednesday, December 09, 2009

Preetu Venugopalan, TNN 8 December 2009, 04:59am IST

PANAJI: The Russian girl who was allegedly raped says that police forced her to register a complaint of assault and threatened her that her visa would be revoked.

Although the girl alleged that at about 2am on December 2 she was raped by Fernandes, who had contested the assembly elections in June 2007, Colva police registered a case of attempt to rape.

According to the FIR, Fernandes "jumped on the complainant to rape her". The complainant pleaded with him not to rape her. "He remained on the complainant for about 10 minutes. The complainant has received scratches and black marks all over her body as she tried to prevent the rape."

Speaking to TOI, the girl, who arrived in Goa in August 2009 on a business visa and works as a Russian representative in a five star hotel in South Goa said, "The Goa police seems to have preconceived notions about foreigners and they judge all foreigners in a similar fashion." She claimed that she had been wronged twice.

"First, by Fernandes, who pretended to be friendly and helpful and then raped me, and then by the police officer, who tried to scare me off. I want justice and that's why I have approached the Russian consulate," she said.

Explaining the sequence if events on that night, the girl said she had gone to a shack at Colva with a friend when Fernandes joined them at the bar and offered some cocktails. They were in the shack till 2am. "I had come on my scooter. But as I felt uneasy driving the bike after the cocktails, John offered to drop us home and we agreed as I knew John," she said.

The girl claims that she was raped after her friend was dropped home. "I was scared and begged him to drop me home. When I reached home I was in a state of shock and collapsed on the bed." She claimed that she woke up the next afternoon and went to the police station to report the incident.

"I was told by lady police officers that this was a case of molestation and I must complain accordingly. Later, the police inspector tried to influence me that to ensure that I don't get into trouble I should drop the charges against Fernandes."

Meanwhile PI Sidhant Shirodker, who was holding charge of Colva police station when the girl registered the complaint, has refuted charges that the Russian girl was harassed.

He stated the girl arrived at the police station and wrote the complaint herself, which was received and registered at 4.15 pm the same day.

Preetu Venugopalan, TNN 5 December 2009, 04:20am IST, the times of india, goa edition

Court raises questions over noise law in Goa

PANAJI: Can a person be prosecuted for violation of an act that has been extended to Goa, but not yet notified? A local court has sought to know from the high court of Bombay at Goa about the enforceability of the MP (Madhya Pradesh) Control of Music and Noises Act (MPCMNA) in the state after it found that the law has not been notified even though it was extended by the central government to Goa in 1966.

The issue came up after Calangute police filed a chargesheet for offences punishable under section 7 and 8 of MPCMNA against a night club owner who is now facing trial in a criminal case before the JMFC, Mapusa.

It is alleged that the accused was found playing amplified music without permission from the competent authority and thereby causing noise pollution and disturbance to the public at 12.10am on March 22, 2007.

Appearing for the night club owner, advocate Galileo Telles pointed out to the court that though the provisions of the act were extended to Goa, no notification has been issued till date as provided in section 1(3) of the said act, either by the administrator of the Union territory of Goa or later by the governor, once Goa attained statehood.

The public prosecutor also admitted there is no such notification, thereby leading the court to observe that under Article 20(1) of the Constitution it has been provided that no person shall be convicted of any offence except for violation of a law that is in force at the time of commission of the act charged as an offence.

The North Goa sessions court has now referred the matter to the high court and sought to know whether the provisions of the act were enforceable.

Preetu Venugopalan, TNN 8 December 2009, 04:59am IST, The times of India

Motorcycle thief rides into Raj Bhavan

PANAJI: In a serious security lapse, a motorcycle thief recently rode into Raj Bhavan and almost got to the office of the governor, who has a Z+

security cover. Police are now investigating how the rider got in, and that too around 7.40am, when the governor takes his morning walk. Besides, the incident took place on December 1, when the Goa was on alert because of the International Film Festival of India.

Sources said that one Amit Gadve, 24, arrived in Goa from Sangli, stole a bike and later rode into the Raj Bhavan complex. His identity was not checked by the guards at the main gate, who were told by the thief that he had come to meet his friend Santan, a Raj Bhavan employee who stays in the staff quarters. Santan was out of station at that time and has rejoined only recently.

After entering the campus, instead of oing to the employee quarters, he headed for the main building. An alert staff then stopped him and informed the police. SP (North) Bosco George confirmed the incident: “The accused entered Raj Bhavan with a stolen vehicle and was arrested.”

Cops came to know of the stolen bike after they brought Amit to the police station.

The two-wheeler had been reported missing from Campal on November 30. “Amit claimed that he was disturbed as his wife had left him and gone off to Mumbai. He came to Vasco by train on November 29 and stole the bike next day from Campal.


Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Former Goa junkie to star in French music festival

Former Goa junkie to star in French music festival
Preetu Nair, TNN

PANAJI: He wasted the best years of his life doing drugs on the streets of Colaba. After being thrown out of home at 15 for his addiction, this Class VIII dropout survived doing odd jobs in Mumbai, sometimes at the docks. But, after an eternity on the streets, he got tired and returned to his ancestral home on the island of Chorao, Goa. That was 10 years ago.

Here, Joseph Rocha, fondly called Slow Joe, was to become a `Cinderella Man', on the lines of celebrated American boxer James Braddock. Rocha deaddicted himself and devoted himself to singing although he has no formal training.

Occasionally, he would sing at shacks in the area. During one such evening in July 2007 he met a young foreigner. He was playing a four-string guitar and, he recalls, ``I started to sing. I had no idea that it would lead to this,'' Rocha recalls.

Cedric de la Chapelle, a young musician from Lyon with a four-man band, was looking for inspiration. The group was so taken in by Slow Joe that they took him to Delhi for a recording. That's how `Slow Joe & The Ginger Accident' was born, with the islander as the lead singer. ``His voice is soulful, soaked with American musical culture, and he is much younger at heart than any of us,'' says Cedric.

Today, Rocha (67) is waiting to fly out to Paris to play live at the Trans Musicales De Rennes Festival 2009, France's oldest live show.``Now I love my songs and my feni. Trust me, music, at times, is better than sex,'' he says.

``When I was young, I was a coward and would run away from realities of life by taking drugs. When I started accepting life as it was, I learnt to live without drugs. Now I have the strength to fight. And guess what? I am turning lucky as now I am getting my due,'' he says.

``I started singing ever since I learnt to talk,'' says Slow Joe. At first he would sing Sinatra or Presley, but now he sings his own compositions. ``I was 12 when I wrote my first song. Life has taught me important lessons and I bring out my experiences in my verse,'' says the man who always moves with a notebook. ``I never know what could inspire me.''

There are, however, still some twists left to his story. He has to reach Paris for his his first ever live show but has no passport. It expired in 2000. His ration card hasn't been renewed since 1997 and he closed his bank account years ago.

``I've been careless. But people are helping me. I've got a letter from the panchayat stating I've lived in Chorao for more than five years,'' he says. He also has an affidavit. The passport office is cooperating. ``Let him come to me with the documents and we will do the needful,'' said passport officer S B Hire. Meanwhile, the band is in Goa so that they don't miss out on their practice, waiting for Slow Joe's passport to glory days.

28 October 2009, The Times of India, New Delhi edition

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Man wanted in UK arrested in Goa

Man wanted in UK arrested in Goa
Preetu Nair & Arvind Tengse, TNN

PANAJI: Goa police late on Monday night arrested a UK national wanted by the Lancashire police for a kidnapping in Burnley more than six years ago.

The police stumbled upon Ajay Kaushal, 50, while investigating the death of a British tourist in Colva on Sunday. Police sources said Kaushal had been sentenced to 15 years in jail by a UK court, but he fled the country. Ateam of the Colva police led by PI Siddhant Shirodkar arrested Kaushal under section 41 of CrPC after receiving documents from the Lancashire police. Confirming this, SP (South) Allen D’Sa said, “On receiving confirmation from the Lancashire police that Kaushal is a most wanted man in there, we arrested him”. “We are in touch with the Interpol and are verifying his antecedents”, said DIG Ravindra Yadav.

27 October 2009,The Times of India, Goa edition

Monday, October 26, 2009

For Rs 50,000 they killed four women

For Rs 50,000 they killed four women
Preetu Nair, TNN
PANAJI: The four murders allegedly committed by Siva G TNN Chandrakant Talwar and Syron Rodrigues got them a booty of just over Rs 50,000, police sources revealed. The duo would offer women a lift in their car and then kill them for their money and jewellery.

Talwar, 35, from St Inez would strangulate the women, while Rodrigues, 20, from Chimbel would purchase 1 litre of petrol, which the duo would sprinkle on the victim before setting the body ablaze. Syron’s girlfriend, a minor, would convince the women to accept the lift.

“The total amount that they got after selling the victims’ gold ornaments—1 mangalsutra, 2 gold chains, 2 pairs of gold earrings—is Rs 42,000. Another Rs 9,320 in cash was found in Malati Yadav’s purse,” said police sources.Explaining how the murders took place, police sources said, “Sharmila Mandrekar was walking home when they stopped the car and asked her for directions.

They then offered her a lift home as it was in the same direction. Once she was in the car, they took a wrong road. Seeing this Sharmila raised an alarm, but when Talwar threatened to kill her, she kept quite.

26 October 2009 , The Times of India, Goa edition

Sanatan ideology a worry: DIG

Sanatan ideology a worry: DIG
PANAJI: With the role of Hindu group Sanatan Sanstha coming under the scanner after two of its "important functionaries" were being accused of carrying explosives that led to the blast in Margao on the eve of Diwali, a senior police official has said there was "something wrong" with the organization's ideology.

"If their active members, who are important functionaries in the Sanstha are involved in the blasts in Margao, then there is definitely something wrong with the ideology of the organization," said DIG Ravindra Yadav.

He said, "There is also something wrong with the philosophy of the organization. Nobody expects that an organization which has members who chant names of gods, read holy scriptures and talk about spirituality, would also have someone like Malgonda Patil and others, who indulge in terrorist activities. "

DIG Yadav said that even in the past, several members of the Sanstha have been accused in blasts in Maharashtra and now important members in Goa are involved in the blast.

Police have said that though they are investigating the role of Sanatan Sanstha, "nowhere have we said that Sanatan is involved in the blast. We have only said that these two persons have linkages with Sanatan".

Sanatan has claimed that Patil, who died in the blast, is not an administrator of the Sanatan ashram. "But he was definitely in a high position in the Sanstha. There is no doubt that Patil is among the top influential persons in the organization," said DIG Yadav.

However, when asked if they have found any evidence linking Patil to the Sanstha and his role in the Sanstha during the raids conducted by Special Investigation Team (SIT), DIG Yadav said, "Investigations are in progress and we are analyzing the evidence".

Meanwhile, police sources said they have come across people who have revealed that Patil claimed to be an administrator of the Sanatan. "When our CID official called up the organization for any information, they would put him in touch with Patil, claiming that he was the administrator, authorized to give information about the organization to outsiders", said police sources.

No arrests have been made so far in connection with the blast. In their latest press release, Sanatan has claimed, "Many Goans have affirmed their support to us. They have realized that the investigation of the Margao blast is being conducted purely from a political perspective and that Sanatan has been held to ransom for it".

However, Sanatan Sanstha's spokesperson Abhay Vartak told TOI, "We are into spiritual science and we have discarded hinsa (violence). Patil was just a prasarak (one who spreads spiritual awareness on behalf of the organization) and staying in the ashram. If the police feel that our philosophy that has inspired lakhs of people is wrong, then thousands of people should have committed the act that Patil is accused of doing by the police".

October 26, 2009, The Times of India, Goa edition

'No chance of facility being misused'


26 Oct,2009
The Russians are coming...
For most of us, the cold war ended in the last decade of the last  century. But for others, it seems, it’s still on. On Saturday, the Goa edition of a leading national newspaper offered us the ‘sensational’ news that, “believe it or not”, Goa was offering visas on arrival. It alleged that charter tour operators had managed to secure this dangerous privilege for clients, “especially from Russia”, with the “active connivance of immigration authorities”. For a mere $40, “at least on paper” (implying that this was supplemented by further underhand payments), it said, Russian Mafioso could gain entry to Goa and India.
Apparently, Indian Ambassador to Moscow P P Shukla had objected to this pernicious practice. But it quoted the “latest letter” from the ambassador in this regard as having been written on 15 January 2009; over 10 months ago and during the previous tourism season! This is a small storm in a tiny cup containing some very old and very stale tea.
It is not a new issue. It actually came up in January, when Ajor Ananenko, a Russian tourist visiting Goa on a Temporary Landing Permit (TLP), was caught by the Pernem police for overstaying after his TLP expired. Goa Police then questioned his entry on a TLP. The issue was thoroughly discussed at the time in Herald. We thought it was resolved, but apparently it was not so.
Visas on arrival are not the kind of security flaw they are being made out to be. Countries that count tourism as an important source of their revenue – including Thailand, Sri Lanka and Singapore – offer visas on arrival to tourists. With computerised databases, the possibility that terrorists or personae non grata can get into the country using this route is greatly reduced. Besides, visas on arrival are for short stays, and are rarely valid for more than 15 days or a month, while the normal visitor’s visa is valid for six months.
The Temporary Landing Permit (TLP) – the Indian version of the Visa-on-Arrival – isn’t issued to any and every Russian arriving in Goa. Before the 2008-09 season, Russian charter tourists flying into Goa came only from Moscow. However, last year, charter aircraft began flying out of other Russian cities, like Yekaterinburg and St Petersburg, none of which have Indian consulates to issue visas.
Since these towns are thousands of kilometres away from Moscow, it is completely unrealistic to expect would-be charter tourists to travel to Moscow and back just to get their Indian visas. That is why the central government allowed charter tourists from only these places entry into India on Temporary Landing Permits. By the rules, charter tourists flying in from Moscow cannot ask for and should not be granted TLPs. Only those flying in from Yekatrinburg, St Petersburg and other places without consulates are supposed to get this ‘privilege’. So far, there are no complaints that these rules are being flouted.
Unnecessarily creating controversies will hurt Goa’s tourist trade, which is already reeling from the combined onslaught of the global recession and the 26/11 Mumbai terror strike. Numbers of British tourists are likely to go down this year by a further 15 per cent, and the tourist trade is hoping to make up the shortfall with increased visitors from Russia and the Ukraine.
It is not as if any Russian can or does come in on a TLP. Between September and December last year, 4,650 TLPs were issued to Russians, while a total of 17,632 Russian tourists came into Goa during the period, making it the second largest group of tourists after the British, who numbered 27,542. This means, first, that the vast majority of Russians in Goa entered with proper visas. Second, the new system of issuing TLPs increased the number of Russian tourists by over 25 per cent.
In fact, a much bigger problem is that immigration authorities in Goa tend to forget about tourists once they get in, whether with valid visas or TLPs. All records are now computerise

Goa onlya state in country to offer ' visa on arrival'

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Goa Tourism dept nixes police security plan

Tourism dept nixes police security plan
Preetu Nair, TNN 25 October 2009,

PANAJI: The tourism department has shot down a police proposal to erect a watch tower at Santa Monica jetty to keep a tab on movement of people this tourist season.

“Considering the present scenario in the country and intelligence inputs regarding (possible) terrorist attacks in the western coast of India, it is felt necessary to have a watch tower at Santa Monica jetty manned by the police to keep a watch on the movement of suspicious persons,” superintendent of police (north) Bosco George had written to the Corporation of the City of Panaji on August 18.

He pointed out that there is a daily flow of tourists into Panaji and that most of them visit Santa Monica jetty for river cruises. George’s letter assumes significance in the wake of the Diwali-eve blast at Margao. However, the CCP wrote back saying “this office is unable in the present circumstances to do anything from safety and security point of view”.

In his reply on September 25, CCP commissioner Elvis Gomes said, “The tourism department has requested that they are going ahead with the plans for the area, it is informed that this office (CCP) is unable in the present circumstances to do anything from safety and security point of view (sic)”.

“Initially we had agreed to the police proposal. But we received two letters from the tourism department specifically informing us about their plans. We have communicated the same to the police,” Gomes told TOI. The tourism department apparently felt that a watch tower would hamper the free flow of traffic and said it is planning a road overbridge to ease congestion.

25 October, 2009, The Times of India, Goa edition