Goa home minister tries to downplay rape incident


Panaji: Insisting that Goa was a safe place, state Home Minister Ravi Naik Thursday told the Goa legislative assembly that a Russian woman who has accused politician John Fernandes of rape knew him since 2008, and “you make friends and while going on the road some trouble happens”.

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Naik was replying to a discussion on matters of public importance in the state assembly raised by Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar.

“Goa is safe, more than any part of the country. The girl (Russian victim) knew John since 2008. This girl then went in someone’s car. You make friends and while going on the road some trouble happens,” Naik said.

Naik’s statement echoes the earlier comments of other Congress leaders, including Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, Rajya Sabha member Shantaram Naik and PWD Minister Churchill Alemao.

All the three state Congress leaders in separate instances had partially blamed the 25-year-old Russian woman for the rape.

While Shantaram Naik said in the Rajya Sabha Tuesday that rape cases where the victim is known to the attacker should be viewed in different light, Kamat had vaguely said that tourists should have a “code of responsibility” while holidaying in Goa.

Earlier, senior BJP leader Manohar Parrikar said the Russian rape case warranted international limelight because of the shoddy and inefficient policing in the state.

“How the rape case was handled was completely deplorable. The government has absolutely no control over the police,” Parrikar said.

The former chief minister also alleged that even after the case was highlighted in parliament, the police continued to ensure that the accused was not arrested.

“The police know where the accused is. They do not want to arrest him. The police are waiting till the Russian victim gets tired of the case and goes away,” he alleged.

“We should act with sincerity, before it is too late. Even the foreign counsulates have started writing to us,” Parrikar said.

Goa Tourism Minister Mickky Pacheco has already said that the home ministry was bringing a bad name to the state, which attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors every year, including substantial number of foreigners.