Are tourists safe in India?

The recent death of British Scarlett Keeling in Goa has had significant coverage in the international media over the last month. In fact, it has opened a new and dangerous chapter on tourism in Goa — one of India’s most visited states — is a tourist safe there?

For those who haven’t followed the story: 15-year old Keeling was drugged, raped and left to die in Goa. What’s worse is that the Indian police treated her death as an open and shut case of a tourist drowning, which has now been revealed as a conscious decision by local authorities to cover it up a) because they were involved b) to not hurt tourism in the state.

It saddens me to think that the case only reopened because of the noise made by Keeling’s mother, and its prolific reporting in international media that probably put pressure on Indian officials to come clean. Indian media criticizing the police for not being able to protect tourists efficiently was perhaps not enough. It gives grieving insight into the corruption festering in the Indian government.

According to a Reuters report: At least 126 foreign nationals have died in Goa in the past two years, 40 of them British. Of these, it is said that about 10-12 cases that were declared drowning cases are suspicious, and further to the Keeling story, they might be opened again for investigation.

All this makes me wonder: how long has the Indian police in Goa been getting away with crime? Why is a British woman (rather than an Indian) responsible for helping uncover local corruption? How many stories must be in the closet?

I regained some hope when I read this morning that the Indian police in Goa arrested 40 people in an overnight crackdown on suspected drug traffickers in Goa, and, that the Indian government would like to take action by employing ex-military personnel to protect tourists in beaches around the country.