Row over Goa minister terming rape accused ‘naive’

Panaji, June 4 (IANS) Even as Goa Police continues to probe the alleged gang rape of two Delhi women tourists, a comment by state Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar, who called the five accused “naive”, triggered a row in the state on Thursday.

North Goa Superintendent of Police Umesh Gaonkar told reporters at the police headquarters here that the probe team was looking into whether the accused knew the women, who they had waylaid, beaten up and later allegedly raped in a room of a secluded resort in Calangute beach village, 15 km from Panaji.

“We have already arrested the accused, but we are trying to establish a few things including whether the accused knew the victims,” Gaonkar said.

Five people were arrested on Tuesday for posing as policemen and then abducting, beating and sexually assaulting the two young women tourists.

Parulekar sparked a controversy when he said the five accused youngsters — aged between 21 and 27 years — were “nadaan” (naive).

Speaking to reporters in connection with the alleged rape, Parulekar said he regretted what happened, but assured tourists that the incident was an aberration.

“… the boys are nadaan (naive) and they have small crimes registered against them and this will not happen in the future,” Parulekar said.

“I regret the incident… The character of the boys involved in the rape of the women was not good. They were working in a hotel and whichever hotel they worked in, they were booked for small time robbery,” Parulekar said.

The five arrested persons are Ajay Kusbash from Goa, Trevor Joseph from Mumbai, Nadeem Khan from Rajasthan, Kamlesh Choudhary from Hyderabad and Jivan Pawar from Karnataka. They were employed in hospitality units in the coastal belt.

The Congress termed Parulekar’s comments “condemnable”.

“It is ridiculous that rapists are called ‘nadaan’ by the tourism minister. He should feel ashamed of the comments he has made. This clearly shows that the BJP government is totally insensitive towards women in the country,” Congress spokesperson Durgadas Kamat said.

The two women told police they were raped through Monday night and Tuesday before a police team raided the resort and rescued them.

“They dragged us from the car to a hotel room and raped us,” one of the women told reporters on Thursday.

Police reached the spot after the driver of the taxi the women were travelling in, complained to the authorities.

Gaonkar said police were also investigating a call made by one of the accused, who had allegedly demanded ransom from the call recipient.

“There are several aspects which need investigation,” the police superintendent said.

Goa, a top beach tourism destination in India, attracts over three million tourists annually. However, several crimes against women over the past few years have put the state in a negative light.

 

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