The Goa cabinet this week decided to erect an electrified fence around the state to keep out the hordes of roving all-male tourist “gangs” who have overwhelmed the coastline during the last two tourism seasons.
It’s a sort of Berlin Wall for Goa – modelled after similar fences in Gaza, the U.S.-Mexico border, there the Korean DMZ and the wall in Jammu and Kashmir.
The decision to set up the fence was announced by Chief Minister Manmohan Pannikar, after an all party delegation returned from a four-day educational trip to Jammu and Kashmir.
The MLAs had been dispatched to the border area to conduct a feasibility study of replicating the fenced line of control between India and Pakistan in Goa.
Deputy Chief Minister Frank D’Suzie, who headed the delegation, said that the fence was essential because these “budget, no-spending” tourists had learned how to dodge road blockades during the month of December.
“The plan is to raise a fence, which will cover the entire state, Kashmir-style. So that none of these cheap fellows can gatecrash Goa’s tourism party,” D’Suzie said.
Further speaking to the media about his visit to Jammu and Kashmir, D’Suzie said that both Goa and the border state faced similar problems of infiltration.
“Only there the army calls them militants. They try to cross over into Kashmir carrying guns. But in Goa it is even worse. These tourists from the border states of Maharashtra and Karnataka come with gas cylinders to beat out restaurants and bedding to beat hotels. It is an assault on our economy,” he said.
The senior minister also drew a parallel between the tactics employed by militants in Kashmir for crossing over into India and tricks played by the all male tourist gangs, for getting into the state.
“An army brigadier posted in the Poonch sector told us about how a few militants would open fire in one particular area and push the rest of the infiltrators through another border pass. The same diversionary tactics happen here, too,” D’Suzie said.
He recounted an instance when forty jeeps packed to the brim with low-budget tourists slipped into Goa using a dirt track over the mountains, taking advantage of a protest on the Goa-Maharashtra over water sharing between the two states.
“We had posted policemen all along the state’s border to avoid just this. But they had to be rushed to the protest site leaving holes in the security cordon around Goa. That is why we need an electrified fence,” D’Suzie said, adding that goal for the first year will be one lakh electrocutions.
When asked if the fence would impede the movement of wild animals in Goa’s nature reserves, which share forest cover with its neighbouring states, D’Suzie cautioned journalists against comparing tourists to “wild animals” just yet.
To another question on whether the fence would be an eyesore and deter high spending tourists from visiting Goa, the deputy chief minister said: “High spending tourists will anyway fly into Goa. A fence will not make a difference to them.”
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