How did an argument between tourists and staff of an Anjuna hotel over smoking a hookah near the pool get out of hand? It started out as a simple case of a waiter telling a group of tourists that the rules do not permit smoking hookah near the pool.
What followed was an argument and a little shoving and pushing. The hotel stepped in and defused the situation by sending the staff member home.
The matter should have ended there. But as fate would have it, the staff member returned to collect his mobile charger and then all hell broke loose.
CCTV footage from outside the hotel shows the tourists exiting the hotel to pick a fight with the waiter and his brother outside the hotel premises. When the matter got out of hand, the other staffers intervened to stop it, but not before the damage was done.
The version of the story put out by the tourist in question and his family was that he was attacked by a group of staffers with knives, belts and baseball bats. The CCTV footage from outside the hotel clearly shows the tourists as the offending party and the staff merely defending themselves.
The hotel, in its statement to the press, accused the tourists of first attempting to squeeze a refund for their holiday and when that did not work, they went public with the incident.
Violence of any sort cannot be condoned. The question is, who provoked it?
One of the victims of this sordid affair, provoked by unruly tourists who throw their weight around when asked to follow rules, was a PSI who was suspended for not speeding up the investigation.
In this case, the government has treated him unfairly. He was suspended to satisfy social media and national media pressure after a video of the attack went viral.
Today five or six boys, who just happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, will have to face a lengthy trial while the tourists who instigated the fight will get away scot-free only because they are tourists.
Incidents of tourists behaving in an unruly manner happen all the time. Hotels and those connected with the tourism trade just suppress them for fear of losing clients or looking bad on social media.
Practically every Sunday, volunteers and security guards at the Old Goa churches are provoked and needled by unruly tourists who insist on entering churches when Mass going on.
The other day a group of tourists jumped into a pool in a five star hotel with their clothes on despite being told it was against the rules.
It must be said that while a majority of tourists who visit Goa on a holiday follow the rules, a few think they are above the law and give all tourists a bad name. This attitude of those in the tourism industry that the tourist is God needs to change.
Goa needs to send a clear message that it will roll out the carpet of hospitality for those who visit the state on holiday, but those who abuse this hospitality will face the thick and hard end of the stick.
The government must be fair and just in the Anjuna incident. The police must also book a case against the tourists who provoked the fight and have them arrested.
This could be the first step towards transforming Goa from being a ‘free for all’ state to a place where rule of law is sacrosanct.