BY AUGUSTO RODRIGUES
That narcotic drugs are easily available and consumed with ease in Goa is a known fact. Either authorities are intentionally feigning ignorance regarding the whereabouts of peddlers, or they are incompetent enough to be unable to detect their location. This blight is causing societal damage as well as sullying the image of tourism in Goa.
“Cases related to drugs always rise when the season starts. This has been the trend through the years, but the numbers vary. It would be wrong to say that more drugs were used this year in comparison to last year because the number of cases handled is pretty steady,” admits Dr Fenton D’Souza, whose contact number in the coastal belt of North Goa is well-known.
“Most of the cases are connected to tourists who have come to Goa to stay here as long or short-term visitors. There are few cases of foreign tourists. Tourists that come don’t become addicts here. They have come here with addiction or, in other words, because they are addicts,” reasons Dr Fenton, who is a resident of Anjuna.
“Access to drugs is easier in Goa,” acknowledges Dr Fenton.
“The problem is not with tourism. It is a problem that has been affecting our Goan society, and we are not accepting it. There is no college in Goa where these chemicals are not being sold today. We have addicts and we have mules that are part of our college culture,” rues Glynn Silveira, owner of Silver Travel and Leisure, a travel agency based in the capital city.
“Can you explain the beady eyes in our youngsters or justify the money that is being spent by some of these children? Believe me, some of the boys and girls that are in this business are the ones you least expect,” confesses Glynn.
“I know that children from affluent families are carriers of narcotics in colleges and at night spots on the coast,” laments Glynn.
“There is no doubt that our Goan youth are into these chemical drugs now. Several parents call me up explaining the erratic behaviour of their children. Drugs are consumed by college-going students, but the switch is from hash and marijuana to chemicals, and that is more worrying,” admits Dr Fenton.
BJP spokesperson Sonali Phogat died, and a lady needed to be kept on life support in North Goa this season. Narcotics were the common factor.
“Drugs are available in all states. It is just that they are more easily accessible in Goa. If a tourist cannot score with a local dealer, he will go to a Nigerian or a foreigner. This ease of procurement is not available in other states,” argues Dr Fenton.
“I received a call from the parent of a girl from Delhi, complaining that her daughter living in the north had become a drug addict. The girl for sure was a drug addict before coming to Goa. It’s just that she came, saw and decided to stay back because she found her life with drugs so easy to manage here,” averred Dr Fenton.
EDMs have now become a mainstay of tourism in Goa with outsiders providing entertainment and fatalities becoming a natural add-on. Many of these incidents go unreported.
“Deaths do happen, but most of the time it is when EDMs are held because they encourage people to consume more drugs. We have plenty of cases of people suffering from overdoses,” claimed a doctor attached to a clinic in the north, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
“There are many times when the drug-related deaths will not be reported because the viscera is normally sent for toxicology reports, and those reports are never really heard of when they come. But we know of the people that died because we as doctors treat them before they die,” claimed the doctor, throwing a little more light on drug-related deaths.
“The addiction in Goan children is worrying. I treat cases, and unlike in the past, today the trend amongst children is to take chemicals that are more harmful than drugs. There is no smoking now,” claims a psychiatrist attached to some clinics in the north.
“It is not that the children of today should use the drugs consumed in the past. Drugs are bad per se, but when drugs precipitate death, it is far worse,” reasons the psychiatrist.
Whilst the Goa police claim an increase in the number of seizures related to drugs this season vis-à-vis the last, the emphasis has been on marijuana and a negligible haul of chemical narcotics which are more easily available.
The latter, it appears on the surface, has been left to the police from Hyderabad with three Goans already in their net.
“It is easier to help a person addicted to hashish or ganja than someone addicted to chemicals. Chemicals have a terrible effect, and it takes much longer to wean a person away from chemicals. Deaths are linked to chemicals and not hashish or ganja, which we call organic,” claimed another psychiatrist on condition of anonymity.
To think that the Goan youth are not under the spell of narcotics is akin to an ostrich having its head stuck in the sand. It is not just the tourists that are succumbing to the narcotic problem.
It is discreetly taking a toll on the youth in Goa, while we remain playing with words and resting on false hopes, rather than taking action.