Sun, sand and substance on North Goa’s beaches

As Goa’s tourism season touches its peak, stakeholders are busy catering to the demands of visitors from all over the world and with it the beaches of North Goa are now burgeoning with music and food.

Amid all this, the underbelly of the drugs and prostitution industries in the state have also picked up, with sinful demands being met courteously. Drugs – of all kind – are being sold in the open on the beaches of Calangute, Baga and Morjim.

Team TOI’s first-hand experience came as an absurd shock and raised some serious questions on the efforts of authorities in their fight against this menace. Narcotics flowing in the parties that dot North Goa’s face during the winter tourist season is not something new, but the absurd and open manner in which they are sold definitely came as a shocker.

The first stop was the Calangute-Baga stretch. Dressed in the usual tourist style of shorts and tees, team TOI made its way towards the sandy shore as the sun started its dive into the Arabian Sea, allowing the shack owners to fire the mood with loud music.

Beer cans in our hands, we sat on the beach. The team’s first encounter was with an officer patrolling the area with a high beam laser. He inspected us from a distance and told us that the act is now prohibited.

“Drink, but don’t leave any garbage here,” were the officer’s parting words.

As the sky changed its colours to ultimately become pitch dark, a young boy, not more than 25 years of age, approached us with more confidence than that of the police officer and uttered the three magical words.

“Drugs chahiye kya? (Do you want drugs?)” he did not stop there, as he parroted the list of items he was offering.

“Weed, cocaine, charas, heroin, acid, LSD, pills, anything you need,” the boy, appearing to be just like any of the hundreds roaming on the beach, said.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi‘s war on corruption and black money resulted in him not accepting payment by way of old notes, nor was he ready to make his trade digital. But, he was the only exception that night when we departed.

In August 2016, chief minister Laxmikant Parsekar had, during the Assembly session, admitted that the state has witnessed an increase in the number of drug peddlers even as Vasco MLA Carlos Almeida had alleged that drugs in the state were being sold in connivance with police officials.

Saying that he views the drug problem as a serious one, the CM had said that officers were directed to take strict action.

Superintendent of police (SP), anti-narcotics cell (ANC) of the Goa police, Karthik Kashyap told TOI that preventive actions have been taken against these touts and action has been taken against those involved in the narcotic trade.

The team’s next encounter was with a procurer, who had carved his way around the economic restrictions.

“You can choose the girl in the parlour. Charges for the massage are fixed, anything above that you can pay the girl directly,” the man told us as he directed us to follow his scooty on the busy lanes of Baga.
"I will get your card swiped at a restaurant, he will give you the cash in return," was his instant solution when the team told him we were only carrying cards and old notes.
 The scenic beauty of Morjim was at odds with the ugly drug trades running there. It seems the effects of demonetization have not touched the secluded beach, which is famous among foreign tourists. Waiters, here, openly offered us help in getting drugs. Old notes were not a problem as the waiter gently took two old Rs 500 notes from us, went to a man of African descent, who was sitting two tables away from us, and returned with five grams of hash. Nothing was hidden, nothing was discreet.