Goa toll rises to 10; top cop claims police doing ‘wonderful job’


Panaji: Ten people, including six women and two children, were found dead in mysterious circumstances during the last three days, even as the “saddened” state police chief Bhimsain Bassi Wednesday said that the Goa Police was doing a “wonderful job” to protect the citizens of the state.

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Bodies of two children – a four-year-old girl and a six-year-old boy – were fished out of the Rua de Ourem creek which runs through the heart of the capital, a few minutes after a press conference was called by the director general of police, the Chief Minister Digambar Kamat and Home Minister Ravi Naik, to “assure people that all was under control”.

On Wednesday evening, after being prodded by the media, the police also belatedly acknowledged two more unnatural deaths in the coastal region of Pernem in North Goa, where a couple were found drowned Oct 12. The two deaths had not been disclosed by the police in earlier media briefings.

“We want to assure the citizens of Goa, that Goa is one of the safest places in the country. The Goa police is geared up to ensure safety for everybody,” Bassi told a press conference here Wednesday.

When asked whether the Goa Police was up to the job of solving these mysterious deaths, Bassi said: “We are saddened by these incidents, but the Goa Police are doing a wonderful job to protect the citizens of Goa.”

According to Superintendent of Police Atmaram Deshpande, out of the 10 deaths, the four incidents involving women, were suspected murders.

“A girl found dead at Merces was smothered and died of ligature strangulation. There were burn injuries after death, according to the post mortem examination report,” Deshpande said.

Incidentally, although police insist that the four women were murdered, three days after the body of the first victim was recovered, only one post mortem examination has been conducted so far.

“A panel of forensic experts attached to the Goa Medical College is being formed, which is why the post mortem examinations are delayed,” Kamat told reporters.

Kamat said that both district superintendents and the superintendent of police (crime) were conducting joint investigations.

Earlier, Bassi while admitting to similarities in some crimes, refused to categorically acknowledge a serial killing spree.

“It is still too early to say. All our options are open,” Bassi said, adding that nearly 18 persons were reported missing in Goa over the last fortnight.

Bassi further acknowledged a systemic failure in the police mechanism which had allowed an alleged serial killer Mahanand Naik to kill 16 women over 10 years.

“Mahanand’s case was a classic failure of the system. The whole system had collapsed. We have learnt the lessons,” Bassi said.

Mahanand was caught in a chance incident earlier this year and had confessed to killing 16 women for gain in the last decade during interrogation in an unconnected rape case.

Crimes against women in Goa have hit the media spotlight in the last couple of years, with the murder of British teenager Scarlett Keeling and the mysterious death of Russian teenager Elena Sukhonova earlier this year.

Alleged serial killer Mahanand Naik’s murder rampage, during which he strangled 16 women with their own dupattas, were also elaborately reported in the media, as was Home Minister Ravi Naik’s subsequent statement that “women should no longer wear dupattas on their churidars” because Mahanand had used them to strangle his victims.