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Minister flayed for berating cop's drug raids

MARGAO: Water resources minister Dayanand Mandrekar's public berating of IPS officer Vijay Singh for his drive against drugs and night parties has evoked harsh protests from people from all walks of life, stating that it was totally uncalled for and the police officer's initiative was beneficial for the state's tourism image.

Terming the minister's statements as misplaced and out of line with his other portfolio of art and culture, they felt that the minister appeared to be affected by the crackdown on drugs.

"It is actually funny to note that the tourism minister has not reacted to the crackdown nor is he challenging it, but the water resources minister, who is also the minister for art and culture and should actually be clapping hands at the drive against drugs, has come down hard on the crackdown on rave parties," Cleofato Coutinho, a former judge, said.

Coutinho also pointed out that Mandrekar's statement made it appear that it was more of a problem in the north where there are too many druglords and rave parties and the minister has been affected by the crackdown.

Agreed Abhijit Prabhudesai, an activist from Curtorim, "It is inappropriate for the art and culture minister to comment adversely on something that the SP has done to protect the state and its culture and which he should have applauded," he said.

Prabhudesai said the crackdown on places where illegal activities are thriving was not only in the interest of society but also positive for the state's image. "People do not want to go to places where there is violence and other kind of trouble. Goa's tourism is sensitive and has taken a beating in the past," he said.

Shack owners welfare society (SOWS) president, Cruz Cardozo, expressed shock at Mandrekar's statements. "Coastal security and such kind of efforts by the police should be encouraged. Drugs are sold at these rave parties and while decent beach parties are enjoyed by people, such parties send the wrong message," he said.

The bulk of the tourists prefer peace and not all of them come for drugs. "Let's not think that everyone is coming to Goa just for these rave parties," he said.

The minister's remarks on the police stations were also criticized. "The minister should also understand that there is collective responsibility for government actions. It is not like one minister runs the tourism fiefdom and the home minister another one," he said.

After the attack in Mumbai, the need for strengthening the coastal belt has been greatly felt. "The central government has provided the funds to set up the coastal police stations," Coutinho said.

"We have to think of our future generations. They will have drugs in the future if we don't stop it now. So we have to take all measures to stop such activities," added Cardozo.

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