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Goa gets a bad name after 15 year old girl is murdered

March 11, 2008
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scarlett.jpgThe brutal murder of a 15 year girl has destroyed Goa’s ‘image’. This timesonline (UK) article says:

..the suspected rape and murder of Scarlett Keeling, a 15-year-old British girl found dead last month on the famous Anjuna beach, has now shattered the Indian state’s reputation as a “hippy paradise”, free of worldly evils.

I didn’t know that was Goa’s image…free of worldly evils? Well, if that was the image of Goa amongst some people, it needed to be busted.

Goa is known for its drugs
Everyone who’s been to Goa knows that the drug trade there is flourishing. True, the drug angle to the murder has surfaced only now in the police investigations but the fact that Goa is a drug haven is an open secret. That’s one of the attractions for tourists. Why, there are even personal accounts on the internet with warnings to be careful with drugs in Goa as you can caught by the police or because the drug dealers and druggies are often dangerous people.

The Mafia
It is also common knowledge that in Goa the Russians mafia is involved in everything from drugs to sex. It isn’t just the Russians, there are also the Israelis and the Scotts and the Nigerians and the Kenyans and ofcourse, the Indians. Here’s what a recent article said:goa.jpg

The Russian mafia is suspected to be exporting the drugs all over the country There are reports which would suggest that the mafia in Goa is also actively involved in sending out drugs to various parts of the country and the world…with Goa becoming a haven of drugs, rave and sex, its beaches have become a major market for foreign narcotics dealers. While Russians have taken over the drug business in Morjim and Arambol beaches in Pernem, Israelis run the show at Vagator. The Scotts trade in Calangute and Baga, while the Nigerians and Kenyans dominate Candolim… Many of the Goans themselves are not too far behind. In the once hippie heartland of Anjuna, local boys are the main narco dealers… But everyone is “untouchable” in this sordid nexus between the peddlers, police and locals.

This nexus between the drug dealers and the police has to hold the key to the murder and the subsequent cover-up. Scarlett’s death was initially listed by the police as ‘death by drowning’ under the influence of drugs, but this has been revealed to be a cover-up. It has emerged that while she was indeed under the influence of drugs that night (some say a cocktail of drugs). What is also apparent is that some people took advantage of her and she was assaulted and murdered.

Another link which shows that Goa is the hubbub of drugs is here and here. (Update)

The allegation that the Goa government tried to hush up the murder to ‘protect’ Goa’s image is bullshit though. Has to be. I mean, why should a low-level cop directly investigating the case be concerned with Goa’s image? Clearly he was asked to do so by the killers. So now this cop has been transferred and the investigation is being done by another policeman. But why has the errant cop not been suspended?

Who are the killers?
Well, a man Scarlett was with the night she was killed (Samson D’Souza) has been arrested and apparently some more people, including another man she was with the night she was found dead have been detained. However Scarlett’s mother, Fiona MacKeown, is not satisfied and wants a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe. I don’t blame her. Why would she trust the Goa police after what has happened? However the Chief Minister has turned down her request.

But the motive for Scarlett’s murder remains a mystery. Were the people she was living with (her tour guide boyfriend Julio whom she had met a few weeks earlier, and his aunts) involved in the drug trade and do they have something to do with her death? Or did Scarlett meet some druggies on the beach after Samson left her there (he claims he left her alive). Was it the drug mafia who wanted to bump her off because they felt she had found out something? Or was she simply the victim of sexual violence? The bruises on her body are shocking. If she was under the influence of heavy drugs it would not have been necessary to assault her like that to get sex…unless the killer is deranged. So why was she beaten up? Was it to intimidate her into keeping quiet about something?

Well, whoever killed her influenced the police to keep quiet, no one doubts that anymore. I feel there has to be more than one person involved in Scarlett’s death…otherwise why would a British man called Mike Masala (who was allegedly a witness to the crime) run away from Goa because he feared for his life? Surely he couldn’t be afraid of just one man…

More questions than answers. I don’t know what will happen to the case, but what is clear is that Goa hasn’t been a paradise for a long time now. Well, not unless you are the typical tourist who comes to Goa to simply soak in the sun and the sea, stays in the sanitized areas and avoids all contact with drugs and drug dealers.

(Photo of Scarlett is from the telegraph (UK) and the second picture is by me)

Update: 14th March 08. Another man, Placido Carvalho, was arrested by the Goa Police. He together with Samson have been charged with raping and drugging Scarlett. What is being claimed by the police is that after the assault the unconscious girl was left on the beach and died due to drowning due to the high tide. Her mother however says the police are still covering up the murder as if Scarlett was so high on drugs why was she beaten? She has asked for a CBI inquiry and has written to the Prime Minister. She believes that these two men will be let off finally as nothing will be proved against them. It does seem so as many witnesses had seen Scarlett in a drugged state before she encountered these two men. However, in India sex with a minor, even if it is consensual, is rape. So this men will certainly be charged with rape…but whether it will be proved that she was murdered is something that one cannot say.

Update, 18th March: The news in the newspapers is that Mike Masala has testified against his room-mate Samson (who will certainly be convicted of rape) but he has also said that he saw another man…we’ll get more news on this later.

Also, the Goa police has written to the central government to disallow Fiona (Scarlett’s mother) from entering India again as she has a criminal background. Apparently she has spend a year in jail for manslaughter in the U.K. t

The best news is that the Goa beaches are now crawling with police and the police are cracking down on the drug dens. I am sure it’s a superficial exercise, and nothing will happen to the drug lords…

Update, 25th March 2008: The case is taking new twists and turns. The pathologist who has claimed that Scarlett did not drown while unconscious but was deliberately drowned has been suspended. Link here. While I have full sympathy for Scarlett’s mother, it is indeed that she is lying by saying that her daughter did not drink. This way she will lose the support she has. Link here.

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29 Comments leave one →
  1. March 11, 2008 11:57 pm

    Nita, BBC,CNN all international TV channels are covering this murder. If the police didn’t try a coverup, things wouldn’t have gone that far. It was a gruesome murder but the role of the police makes it worse. Sad day for Goa and India.

  2. March 12, 2008 12:48 am

    whats worse is that the police is charging her mother for being a negligent guardian and leaving the teenager alone while being out of town

  3. Bowie, NV permalink
    March 12, 2008 7:34 am

    India for all it’s spirituality needs to stand up to it’s own morals. Talk is dirt cheap wspecially when it comes from a country who is supposedly the spiritual teacher of the world. To even let Goa exist in the present shape and form with corruption at all levels including internal makes me hate being another Indian!

    There was a time when we set trends that srved to remind a world gone awry what our credentials were. 60 odd years of freedom has made alot of my countrymen act like a monkey with the proverbial necklace in it’s hands!

  4. March 12, 2008 7:43 am

    Thanks Prerna, Ankur.
    Prerna, even I am surprised at the international coverage. When I was trying to find out more facts about the murder, mostly it was international sites that came up. However what I noticed from the coverage is that they give a far more comprehensive coverage than our newspapers. Everytime they write, they give a background. Our media seems to be writing ad hoc stuff but i think our media is more accurate in some cases.
    Ankur, I think it is cruel of the goa govt. to do that. Even if they feel she was negligent, they shouldn’t do that. I don’t think she was negligent though. Maybe that is the kind of lifestyle they lead in there in the UK, and nothing happens there. I do know that teenagers go out late at night in the UK but if you ask me, I am not exactly aware of the lifestyle there.

  5. March 12, 2008 8:05 am

    Hi Nita,

    “The allegation that the Goa government tried to hush up the murder to ‘protect’ Goa’s image is bullshit though. ”

    How are you so sure that these allegations are false?

    Goa is one of the major tourist attraction in India for beach lovers and this case will definitely affect its image among foreigners(especially in the UK). So, I think there is a chance that this might be true.

  6. March 12, 2008 8:18 am

    Priya, that is just my opinion. I feel the reason for the hushing up is far more sinister. Low level cops like inspectors do not see the larger picture and it’s they who hushed it up. And I think they took money. Sure, the CM is worried about Goa’s image and so are many others at the higher level, but that is why they refused to investigate the case further. Well, that’s what I think anyway.

    Bowie, I agree that Goa needs to be cleaned up. I think the CM should be sacked first thing. I heard him on TV and he was defending the cops and denying the coverup. He said it was a mistake that’s all!

  7. March 12, 2008 8:38 am

    As mass deaths due to terrorism,accidents are increasing we have become insensitive to rape and murder. To avoid such incidents of death of foreign tourists in future, all the foreign tourists must be briefed when they land in India about the risk involved if they stick to their lifestyle in this country.
    Regarding drug peddling, it is the failure of both Goan government and the Central government to stop it.
    As per recent news reports, there is likely terrorist activities also in Goa.

  8. March 12, 2008 10:47 am

    earlier it was molestations. this is much worse. I wonder when will be out country safe for our citizens and tourists.

  9. March 12, 2008 10:54 am

    I think their version of Paradise has Drugs available in plenty ?

  10. March 12, 2008 11:02 am

    this whole thing is very unfortunate ,
    as things in India dont change much and even though her mother was partially irresponsible, the way the police/ cm d kamat have handled it is very shameful …

    Dont also forget that Charles Shobraj did something very similar and people have forgotten about it

    things will not change here and partying drugs r here to stay, so are the beaches and tourists even though there may be a temp lull
    Hope every tourist both Indian and Foreign take lessons and r more alert while doing their thing

    ps del the prev comment

  11. March 12, 2008 11:24 am

    Its not a big deal, I don’t know why is media giving it such a hype. Looks like they don’t have many “sansani news”.

    Many Indians or Indian students are killed and murdered in other countries and may be people here don’t come to know about it.

    Police shouldn’t have covered up the murder, rather they should have said comfortably that we are looking into the matter, it involved big drug racket, the girl was linked to it, she was under influence of drugs and so on and got away with it till the case settles, coz. this is what happens to Indians outside, and both our media and theirs don’t even write about it.

    Drugs, Prostitution , crime is here to stay, just keep it regulated, and it shouldn’t come out and effect the so called common man.

    Its like one who is not a druggie doesn’t know that they are there, and one who is knows that they are everywhere.

  12. March 12, 2008 5:16 pm

    well..what lead her to drugs? anything on that?and at 15 is worth coming out with a new boy friend all the way here? as most people here would put it “its the mistake of the family”…

    but everyone dies one day…the person who killed her must have a reason…funny we all blame the murderer…what did she do? why was she there?

  13. March 12, 2008 5:46 pm

    Old Sailor, I agree that adequate warnings should be given about certain drug infested beaches. But ofcourse there are certain things that are common sense, and people should realise that roaming around late at night in a foreign country with strangers is risky business.

    Xylene, I think our country is safer than many others, even Thailand, for tourists at least. However, the idea that India is completely safe is a myth and that myth is being busted little by little. This country is nto safe for women late at night. I would say that only a handful of countries are 100 percent safe after 1 a.m.

    Dinsan, yeah! Drugs is paradise for some!

    Vishesh, she did not come here with a boyfriend. She started living with the tour guide and reportedly refused to accompany her mother to a Karnataka tour. There are also reports that she had no money on her either. She was at the mercy of her boyfriend Julio then to give her money.

    Anshul, this issue would never have got the publicity if it wasn’t for the cover up. On TV today they were conducting an opinion poll, asking people whether this case is about murder or about parental guidance…what they should have added was is this case about a cover-up! That is what is terribly shameful about this issue.

  14. March 12, 2008 5:46 pm

    @iamvisheshur: She was here to consume drugs and boom-she died.

  15. March 12, 2008 5:48 pm

    There are reports that the girl’s mother was also on drugs. That Julio himself dealt in drugs according to some. I have a cousin in Goa and she tells me that locals have no sympathy for the family. Sad!

  16. March 12, 2008 8:49 pm

    Thank you for reporting this Nita, I had not heard the story. It is unfortunate that it takes attractive young Anglo women to spark awareness of these crimes. I say that because thousands of poor Asian, African, and other 3rd World women are enslaved, drugged, murdered, and trafficked without much attention.

    This story reminds me of Natalie Holloway – the girl who was murdered in Aruba. Although the situation was different, the cover-up was the same. The cartels and crime syndicates exert pressure on the government to cover it up. The syndicate that you write about is responsible for much of the drug supply (Extasy) and sex slave trafficking. The Elliott Spitzer (NY Governor prostitution story) is intricately involved with this.

    Thank you Nita.

  17. aquariius permalink
    March 12, 2008 8:53 pm

    if the witness who fled is to be believed, she was already high on a cocktail of drugs the nite she disappeared. she even did more coke even after being “wasted” as he put it…

    i find it interesting that the mother does not take any responsibility for her child’s actions in a foreign country…

    media coverage is bound to be huge as the police admittedly had to do a second autopsy…thereby confirming the cover-up the first time around.

    btw… the mother is now afraid she might be charged with negligence… so voila – more media coverage !!

    moreover, they were in india on holiday for 6 months ?? what about the childrens’ schooling ??…

    amazing case ! thats all i can say…

  18. March 12, 2008 11:17 pm


    Thanks for giving so much information on such a terrible event.

    // This country is not safe for women late at night //

    I would add it is not completely safe for women at any time of the day either.Women have to be on the alert at all times.I completely agree with our President,Ms.Prathiba Patil that girls,ESPECIALLY in conflict zones,must be trained in self-defence and martial arts from a young age.

    Unfortunately,narcotics are not that difficult to obtain in almost all parts of India these days.

  19. March 13, 2008 3:02 am

    This is much ado about nothing, a sign that we still love our colonial masters. For years there have been exposes of the sex trade in Goa, esp. of the firangs pedophilic predisposition in choosing Goa as a spot.

    The hue and cry shows the hypocrisy of the white man, where his child has more value than the thousands of kids that are forced by locals and tourists alike, in Goa.

    Oh yes, we owe them for the fact that she is a foreigner and hence have the duty to ensure their safety, but the extent to which we go to take on blame is astounding.

  20. March 13, 2008 3:34 am

    Errata. The hypocrisy is not of the white man, but our hypocrisy, or call it our color (of skin) coded judicial system!

  21. March 13, 2008 9:19 am

    Thanks Johnny for seeing this issue in a holistic manner. Yes you are right, hundreds of poor, vulnerable people are victims of these mafias but generally if anything like this happens to a tourist the issue gets media attention.

    aquariius, while I have admiration for the mother for fighting to get the murder exposed, I too wonder why she is not taking some amount of responsibility. Any mother would. Perhaps she is not admitting it in public.

    Raj, true women have to be on guard at all times, but more so at night. I doubt that there are many countries though where women can freely roam around at night in a drugged state and nothign happens to them.

    DD, well, yes it’s much ado about nothing, but note that it’s the cover up which blew this case sky high. At the same time let me add that when a tourist is killed, it has a different connotation altogether, even if the tourist is a drug tourist. But your point when you said “the extent to which we go to take on blame is astounding” is a valid one. I have seen the coverage on tv and mostly people from all over India are sympathetic to the mother of the girl. However, my cousin, who is a local Goan, told me this is not the case in Goa. Few sympathise with the foreign girl, not even the foreigners there. The foreigners feel that what the girl was doing (there are allegations that she was giving sex for money as she was broke) was a mistake. Also the girl’s mother is covering up the fact that she knew what her daughter was up to…otherwise why leave the girl in Goa without money?? Surely the mother cannot be that innocent?

  22. March 15, 2008 4:35 am

    The British media is itself not sympathetic towards the family, and is publishing pictures of how they led a hedonistic lifestyle.

    However, whatever the mother and daughter believed in, whether they were drug users or not, the fact that the girl was murdered cannot be sidestepped. These accusations about their lifestyle and way of life are just an excuse to sidestep from the fact that it was a murder.

    So what if Scarlett was a drug user? So what if her mother had encouraged a lifestyle for her chlidren to freely use drugs? While that may be wrong in itself, it doesn’t justify murder at any costs. Period.

  23. March 15, 2008 7:37 am

    Mahendra, yes you are right. Whatever the circumstances and the type of girl, it’s outrageous that a victim is treated maligned like this. Why, even a prostitute must be treated with dignity and Scarlett was not that at all. In fact she is a 15 year old child and shame to those men who took advantage of her vulnerability.

  24. krenim permalink
    March 17, 2008 1:49 pm

    unfortunate but these things happen all the time everywhere lets not get all latin about this,Goa isn’t afghanistan.

  25. Winslie Gomez permalink
    March 17, 2008 4:41 pm

    I am fascinated by the comments on your post. Incidentally you do cover it better than most in your media.

    I came across through “Four Dimensional Vertigo” and should add I am from the UK, where we see it from a variety of issues.

    Here is my link as I am interested in the clash of cultures this case has thrown up above and over the heinous act of a sexual nature.

  26. March 17, 2008 9:07 pm

    Krenim, true, goa is not afghanistan, but nor is it as safe as it is touted to be. its not paradise for sure unless you call it a drug paradise as one of my commentators has done 🙂

    Winslie, thanks. actually i don’t think this is about a clash of culture. I think any girl who is high on drugs and roaming around alone at night (3 a.m!) on a beach would be vulnerable to evil people. It can happen in any country, so I do not think that this incident is anything to do with a cultural clash. It’s about evil people who took advantage of a child woman.

  27. March 21, 2008 2:25 am

    Please run through this post.
    I wanted to draw your attention to the Tehelka article in this post.

  28. Megan permalink
    July 11, 2008 1:05 pm

    As one to travel alone in India since the early 1980s, it’s High Time that Indians spoke frankly about goings on that are by no means random events or related to the relatively recent, Disgusting national pastime of ‘eve teasing’ .
    I’m afraid I have little sympathy for fellow Westerners who fail to recognise that they are On Their Own, that 99% of Indians are wonderful BUT that one must be aware of one’s surroundings, alert & prepared to defend oneself. I cannot understand a parent permitting a teenager to Proceed in a tourist area, let alone in Goa, by herself. As sad as this case is, I wish the police/authorities would get as excited when a very ordinary Indian is assaulted as, let’s face it, occurs OFTEN.
    Two last notes. First, could all brothers, uncles, or other male rellies, please come to life & teach their female kin to drop and punch an idiot (not difficult), making plain something like Zero Tolerance for everyday harrassment/assault — or at least see that girls obtain self defense training.
    Second, here’s to all the unreported decent Gents, often barefoot/illiterate, to see that ladies are safe, as seem very taken for granted.


  1. Scarlett Keeling « Four Dimensional Vertigo

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