US national was alive when pulled out of paddy field: Goa Police

Panaji, Jan 14 (IANS) US national Caitanya Lila Holt – who died mysteriously in north Goa’s Korgao village – was alive when pulled out of a marshy paddy field but died moments after his rescue, a senior police official said on Thursday.

Holt could have been mistaken for a thief by the villagers, Superintendent of Police Umesh Gaonkar told IANS.

“After he was chased (late on Tuesday), he fell into the watered field and probably choked on the slush. We used ropes to drag him out. He was barely alive when pulled out, but died later,” Gaonkar said.

Police claimed that Holt, hailing from Ohio state, was acting in an erratic manner on Tuesday, giving residents of Korgao, located around 35 km north of Panaji, the impression that he was a thief.

“He went to the homes of villagers and asked irrational questions, which made the people suspicious. They began to chase him away. The chase of two-three km ended at the field, where the unfortunate incident occurred,” Gaonkar said.

Police said US consulate officials from Mumbai were expected to arrive in Goa for the autopsy likely to be held on Friday.

The foreign national’s death rocked the Goa assembly on Wednesday, with the government saying he choked on mud while the opposition ‘technically’ dubbed him a murder victim.

Leader of opposition Pratapsinh Rane said the incident was technically a murder and it would deter foreign tourists from choosing Goa as a holiday destination.

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