The tourism minister of Goa, a popular beach destination in western India, where two women tourists were gang-raped earlier this week, called the accused naive and “small-time criminals,” on Thursday, according to local media reports. Five men were arrested on Tuesday for allegedly raping the women from the Indian capital of New Delhi a day before.
Goa's Tourism Minister Dilip Parulekar, however, also said that he was disappointed over the incident and praised the local police for their prompt action.
"The boys are 'nadaan' [naive] and have cases of small crimes registered against them. This will not happen in the future," Parulekar told local reporters. “I regret the incident which happened in Goa. The character of the boys involved in the rape of the women is not good. They were working in a hotel; and whichever hotel they worked in, they were booked for small-time robberies.”
The men were charged for assaulting, kidnapping and raping the women, local police reportedly announced late Wednesday.
Goa attracts over three million tourists annually. “Tourists should not think that these things are common in Goa,” Parulekar reportedly said.
The accused stopped the women’s taxi en route to Anjuna beach in North Goa, which attracts several local and foreign tourists, posing as anti-narcotics police, media reports said. The women and the taxi driver were taken to an apartment where they were assaulted, Umesh Gaonkar, district superintendent of police for North Goa, said, according to Reuters.
“They confined the two women and the taxi driver in two separate rooms at Ivy Retreat, Khobrawaddo, Calangute until June 2 morning. They assaulted them with wooden sticks,” a local police officer told Indian Express. “The accused took turns to sexually abuse the victims. They snatched their cellphones and asked the taxi driver to withdraw cash from a nearby ATM.”
The driver reportedly helped police find the women and the accused persons.
Rapes in India have drawn worldwide attention and the government has tightened laws on sexual violence following the 2012 gang rape, and the subsequent death, of a 23-year-old woman in New Delhi. Millions of Indians took to streets after the incident and demanded action to reduce the number of assaults on women.