The recent brutal murder of Ms. Danielle McLaughlin, a 25-year-old Irish national who was in Goa on a British passport, had shaken the entire state. Police acted swiftly and arrested the 23-year-old culprit Vikat Bhagat within 24 hours time. This shocking case of rape and murder refreshed the memories of the mysterious death of Scarlett Keeling, 15-year-old Devon teenager whose body was found ashore at Anjuna Beach in the partially dressed condition in the year 2008. But these are not the only two deaths that took place in Goa. According to the reports, there are around 245 foreigners have lost their lives while they were on their holiday trip to the tiny western Indian state.
The relatives of the foreigners whose deaths were classified as natural or accidental in the state cry the existence of foul play. According to the reports published in the international media, “Records from the Goa police, obtained under India’s freedom of information laws, show that six other foreigners’ deaths were classified as murders in the Anjuna, Pernem, Mapusa and Canacona districts in the decade leading to August 2015.”
Goa Police manage to arrest the culprit in the Danielle McLaughlin rape and murder case within the few hours after the naked body of the victim was found lying in the field around 500 meters away from the road near Devbag beach in Canacona. An Irish-British dual national whom police believe was murdered in Goa is one of the 245 foreigners who died in four districts of the Indian state in the past 12 years, according to police records obtained by The Guardian.
Later the post-mortem report of the victim Danielle McLaughlin has revealed the 25-year-old Irish national was sexually assaulted by the accused before strangulating her to death in the hours after leaving a party on Monday at Palolem beach, a popular spot in the south of the state. The victim and accused were last seen at a beach shack in Palolem at around 9.30 pm after which she (Danielle) left on the bike of her alleged murderer for the unknown destination, said the sources.
According to the sources, there are around 157 cases of foreigner deaths have been registered at various police station in the state’s four major districts and all of them have been classified at natural or accidental deaths, but the close kin of some of the tourists who died in the western state of India believes that the Indian authorities have overlooked the crucial evidence that could have resulted into proving the existence of foul play in many of the cases.
The statistics reveal a darker picture of the coastal paradise that more than 5 million tourists visited in 2016. There were 20 suicides in Pernem district. About 23 people drowned, while the cause of death for another 39 people is listed as “not known or pending”. Foreign men aged between 30 and 49 are most at risk of dying in the districts, the records show. The families of at least six foreigners who died while holidaying in Goa have told the Guardian they question initial rulings that the deaths of their loved ones were natural or accidental.
In one such case which has been listed under the natural death is of Felix Dahl, a Finish national who was found dead at Patnem in Canacona, in January 2015. Dahl was found with skull wounds – a postmortem carried out in Goa attributed his death to an accidental fall. However, a second autopsy conducted in Finland showed “that was impossible”, his mother Manni Pirhonen said. “The doctors say his damages resulted from high impact force of some sort and falling is excluded,” she said. The most shocking thing here is the man who was in touch with the deceased Felix Dahl is an associate of Vikat Bhagat, the man who was arrested in the McLaughlin rape and murder case and the duo was among a group arrested in the past for a series of burglaries in Canacona.
Following the death of Felix Dahl, the body of another foreigner James Durkin was found washed up on the beach in Canacona after he went missing for more than a month. The body of the 34-year-old from south London was badly decomposed and showed possible signs of mutilation. His death is listed in the records as a drowning but a coroner in the UK reached an open conclusion. “Has he come to some sort of harm at the hands of a third party or has there been an accident? I just don’t know,” she said, according to news reports.
In another case of the death of foreigner tourist in Goa, the Sara Neighbour’s brother Martin was found dead on Arambol beach in February 2008 in a case that was also classified as a drowning. But Neighbour told an inquest in London her brother “looked like he had been beaten up”.
Coming back to the case of Devon teenager Scarlett Keeling which was registered as murder but the culprits have gone scot free after the case went in their favour due to the lack of evidence. “The 15-year-old Scarlett Keeling from Devon, whose bruised body was found in the shallows of Anjuna beach in February 2008. The documents list her cause of death as “drowning in the beach sand water (murder)”. Keeling’s death was initially ruled an accidental drowning, before pressure from her mother forced a second autopsy, which revealed evidence of drugs in her system, more than 50 cuts and bruises and signs of sexual assault,” revealed the sources.
Another case of The death of Denyse Sweeney was initially ruled by police as a drug overdose, but an inquest found no illegal substances in her body and the initial investigation reportedly overlooked evidence of injuries on her body. The case has since been listed as a murder.
Speaking on behalf of the families, Pirhonen said they felt it was unlikely that so many young people were dying natural deaths in the state. “[We] suspect that murders of tourists are actually very common in Goa,” she said. “Nothing is properly investigated except maybe now [with the McLaughlin case]. This was too obviously a murder, so they could not say she fell or drowned. Anybody who’s found in the water, they say has drowned.”
SOURCE : VARIOUS SOURCES | IMAGE SOURCE : GOA PRISM