We invite tourists to Goa, then harass them: Minister

Enough is enough, Goa Tourism Minister Francisco alias Mickky Pacheco said, severely criticising the Goa police for harassing a Russian rape victim.

Panaji: Enough is enough, Goa Tourism Minister Francisco alias Mickky Pacheco said, severely criticising the Goa police for harassing a Russian rape victim.
Speaking to reporters, Mickky said Goa invited tourists from Russia and all over the world to its beaches, only to end up being harassed by the authorities here.

"Is this how we should be treating tourists? We invite them to visit here and later harass them. This is just unfair," Mickky said, referring to the 25-year-old Russian woman who was allegedly raped by a local politician John Fernandes.

Fernandes, who contested the last Assembly Elections on a regional party ticket, has gone underground since the incident.

Hinting at not-too-subtle efforts being made to protect the accused by the authorities, Pacheco said the police delay in registering the complaint of the rape victim was shocking.

"It`s wrong to shield a person accused of such a crime," he said.

The victim had said she was with her friend, a girl, on the night of December 1 when she was offered a lift by Fernandes and the trio ended up having a dinner at a nearby shack in Colva, 30 km from here. When they were heading back home in Fernandes` car, she felt giddy and then Fernandes raped her. But somehow she managed to fend off his advances, the victim said in her letter to Russian consulate.

The victim said: "I was harassed for almost three-and-half hours at Colva police station when I approached with the complaint on December 2." The victim works as a liaison officer for Leela, a five-star resort in South Goa.

Vikram Varma, the legal representative here for the Mumbai-based Russian consulate, has accused the police of trying to pressurise the complainant to water down her case.

"The officials told her that she would lose her visa if she went and complained against the accused, who they said was an `influential person`," Varma said.

The case has since been transferred from the local police station to the Crime Branch.

IANS