In a shocking incident, four men posing as policemen at Goa’s Benaulim Beach allegedly raped two minor girls on Sunday, 25 July.
Two days after the incident, Goa Chief Minister Pramod Sawant – under pressure from the Opposition over the gang rape – said parents must introspect on why their children were on the beach late at night.
The police have arrested the four accused – 21-year-old Asif Hateli, 33-year-old Rajesh Mane, 31-year-old Gajanand Chinchankar, and 19-year-old Nitin Yabbal. The accused had threatened to upload photos of the incident on social media platforms if they weren’t paid Rs 65,000, according to The Times of India.
The accused have been booked under sections of the Indian Penal Code, the Protection of Children from Sexual Offences (POCSO) Act, and the Goa Children's Act and have been remanded in four days of police custody.
As per Goa Chronicle, South Superintendent of P Pankaj Kumar Singh and Deputy Superintendent of Police Margao Harish Madkaikar are supervising the investigations into the incident.
What Happened on Sunday?
According to The Times of India, a group of four girls and six boys, including two minor girls and a minor boy, visited Benaulim Beach at 11:30 pm on Saturday, 24 July. Due to poor weather conditions, some of them left early. Three boys and the two minor girls were left behind.
The incident took place around 3:30 am. The four accused approached the two minor girls – and later allegedly raped them. They then beat up the three boys. The group was then asked to go home, according to the newspaper.
Goa Chronicle has quoted women’s right activist Auda Viegas, who is presently reported to be counselling the girls, as informing that the accused, who had arrived in a car, impersonated police officers and threatened the girls while beating up their male friends with rods.
When the group tried to escape, it was also chased by the accused.
The next day, one of the boys received a call from the accused demanding a ransom of Rs 40,000 before the end of July and another of Rs 25,000 in the following month. After this, the two survivors decided to lodge a police complaint.
Goa Chief Minister Shames the Survivors
During a debate in the House on Wednesday, 28 July, Goa Chief Minister Sawant said, “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.”
He further added, “We directly 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 and the remaining six went home.”
""They were on the beach the whole night, two boys and two girls. Teens, particularly minors, should not be spending the nights on beaches."" - Pramod Sawant, Goa Chief MinisterOpposition Leaders Express Dismay at the CM's Remark
To this, Goa Congress spokesperson Altone D'Costa said, “Why should we fear while moving around at night? Criminals should be in jail and law-abiding citizens should be out freely moving around.”
Meanwhile, Shiv Sena MP Priyanka Chaturvedi has dubbed the CM's remark a "sick and brazen abdication of responsibility to keep Goa safe".
“When 14 year olds stay on the beach the whole night, the parents need to introspect”
Goa CM on gang rape on Goa Beach. This is sick&brazen abdication of responsibility to keep Goa safe. Shameless. pic.twitter.com/ShnygjcWQc
— Priyanka Chaturvedi (@priyankac19) July 29, 2021
Goa Forward Party MLA Vijai Sardesai, on his part, criticised the statements made by the chief minister, calling them 'disgusting'.
“The safety of citizens is the responsibility of the police and state government. If they can't provide it to us, the chief minister has no right to sit in the post,” he added.
Independent MLA Rohan Khaunte expressed shock in his tweet and asked: “If the state government can't assure us our security, who can?”
It is shocking that @goacm is blaming parents for allowing their children to venture out in the night claiming that it is not safe. If state govt can't assure us our security, who can give it?Goa has a history of being safe state for women, that tag is being lost in @BJP4Goa rule
— Rohan Khaunte (@RohanKhaunte) July 28, 2021
(With inputs from Goa Chronicle and TOI.)
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