On a television discussion on NewsX, I was asked by the anchor Vinit Malhotra for my views on the statement of the Chief Minister of Goa Dr Pramod Sawant, “When 14-year-olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect. Just because children don’t listen, we cannot put the responsibility on the government and police.”
Goa CM further elaborated his statement saying, “We blame the police… but I want to point out that of the 10 youth who went to the beach for a party, four stayed on the beach the whole night… two boys and two girls. Teens, particularly minors, should not be spending the nights on beaches.”
I replied it was a poor statement to be made by a Chief Minister of any state.
The issue is not whether the statement is right or wrong. It is a poor statement to be made in light of the fact that a heinous sexual crime has been committed on two minors in a state, which is normally considered to be safe for women. After all, Dr Sawant is not just an MLA but the CM of Goa.
The statement insinuates that because the minors were out late at night, they were raped. It is statement that literally shames the victims and their parents while deflecting the responsibility of the Goa government and the Goa Police.
Did they need to be raped because they were out late at night? Since when did Goa have an issue of safety or being out late at night, especially South Goa? Basically what the Goa CM is implying that Goa is not safe for our children to roam our the beaches at night. I wonder, when as Goans did we allow Goa to degenerate to such a level that our children are not safe
The two minor girls were gang-raped by men who were local Goans were migrants that made Goa as their home according to media report. These men posed a policemen belonging to the Goa police. It appeared that they had the confidence that they would get away with the crime because they threatened the girls that they would upload the videos of the rape online, if the girls complained to anyone about the gang-rape. The men took turns with girls in the bushes after beating up their male friends.
In fact, yesterday on the floor of the house MLAs Churchill Alemao and Vijai Sardesai alleged that an highly influential person called SP South Goa to save two accused persons. Both however, did not name the influential person who called the SP South Goa. In fact, the Goa government must start from this point and investigate who tried to influence the case.
Now it has come to light that one of the accused Rajesh Mane is actually a government servant and this has been admitted by the Chief Minister of Goa on the floor of the House during the ongoing Goa Assembly session. Rajesh Mane is the driver of a senior official of the Agriculture Department of Goa, which comes under the ministership of the Deputy CM of Goa, Chandrakant (Babu) Kavlekar.
Dr Sawant today told the House that the government servant accused in the rape of the two minors in Benaulim has been suspended.
It is important for Dr Sawant to order an investigation into the allegations of calls made by the MLAs of an highly influential person making a call to the SP South Goa to save two of the accused. As Goans, we need to know whether Rajesh Mane is one of the accused for whom someone influential made a call and wanted him saved.
The Goa CM must not ponder over the responsibilities of the parents but the responsibilities of the government and the police. He must ponder on a simple fact is what was a government servant doing late at night out by the beachside posing as Goa policemen with the other accused men. Second, even if the girls were out with their male friends late at night, who gave the government servant and his friends the right to rape them.
By deflecting the core issue and resting the blame of the crime on the parents and the victims, Goa CM is simply trying to tell the people in India and rest of the world; that in Goa, if a minor girl is raped and if she happens to be out, late at night, then it is her fault and her parents; not the government or the police of Goa. Their job is to not provide safety for the girls and women in Goa.
What if the girls were not minors but adults, would this point of view to the cause of rape from the Chief Minister of Goa to parents across the state hold ground?
Dr Pramod Sawant with his insensitivities to the issue of rape of a minor has put his foot-in-his-mouth, trying to play the moral value and parenting value card. He might have some in the BJP supporting his stupid statement but it does not answer the question whether the minors deserved to be raped because they were out late at night in a state like Goa which is considered to be safe.
When the Nirbhaya case happened in Delhi, BJP led nationwide protests to fight for right of the young girl raped in a city known to be unsafe for women. There was no talk of moral values and parental values then by the BJP leaders. Why should it be now in Goa?
In 2018, a woman was gang-raped on Sunset beach in South Goa. The rapists were not Goan men. Three men arrested. But shockingly, one of the three accused in the Betalbatim gang rape case escaped from the custody of police where he was undergoing treatment. The accused accused Makwana is reportedly involved in around 20 criminal cases which include rape and murder cases in Madhya Pradesh. The girl was a Goan girl.
And as I write this article. I am getting a report from my team that a case of rape has been filed by the Quepem Police against Sudhakar Naik and Shambhu Nath for raping a girl from North-East. She was reportedly called to Goa on the promise of a job and raped repeatedly for three days.
This the third rape case reported this week. The third case was two men allegedly raped a 19-year old woman in Usgao, Goa. The Goa Police had arrested two person accused of raping the 19-year old woman. Both accused of the gang-rape were truckers. The accused have been identified as Adam Sayyad (26), resident of Honda Sattari and Sanju Joy.
It shocking to hear about three cases of rape in a week in Goa and it is even disheartening to report about it. Four victims, hoping that they get justice.
The rape of the two minors at the beachside of Benaulim village is Goa’s ‘Nirbhaya’ moment. If the people of Goa remain quiet on the rape of the two minors it will embolden more rapists to commit such gruesome acts against our children and our women.
The government would like us to believe that our beaches are not safe for our children at night. But that is not a Goa, we Goans know.
If the beaches are not safe, then Mr Chief Minister it is your sworn duty to make it safe.