Goa police unaware of beach meeting of Yemeni students

December 9th, 2008 - 6:41 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Dec 9 (IANS) Amid reports of increased surveillance on the 150-odd Yemeni students in Goa, the state police were caught on the wrong foot when a local newspaper report carried a photograph of a group of Yemeni students on a beach, being addressed apparently by an Islamic preacher. The report, which was featured prominently in Marathi newspaper Goa Doot, claimed that the preacher, of foreign origin, was seen addressing a gathering of nearly 55 Yemenis at the popular Dona Paula beach early Monday morning.

“Assembly of Yemeni students creates panic at Dona Paula beach,” said the newspaper’s headline, with a sub-heading claiming the Goa police did not know about the meeting.

Sub-divisional police officer Sammy Tavares told reporters that the police were not aware of such a meeting and that he would verify the facts mentioned in the report.

However, Superintendent of Police Atmaram Deshpande told IANS that the meeting could be an Eid gathering.

“It could have been an Eid gathering because Eid is celebrated a day earlier in Yemen,” he said.

Goa hosts several hundred students from various African and Arab countries, several of whom are enrolled in and law and English language speaking courses.

In fact, the Intelligence Bureau had tipped off the state police about an English language coaching institute located in the heart of Panaji which had several students from Yemen on its rolls.

“Nearly 50 students from Yemen had enrolled for these classes, but never attended,” a senior police official, who was a part of the investigation, told IANS.

According to details available with the Panaji police sub-division, there are nearly 57 students of foreign origin studying in Panaji, out of which 40 are from Yemen.

Another area which hosts a sizeable number of students from the country is Old Goa, which is known the world over for its historical churches.

“There are about 21 foreign students living in Old Goa, from which 17 are from Yemen”, Tavares said, adding that the police had already started checking their attendance records from the educational institutions they were enrolled in.

“We have also inspected their homes and are keeping an eye on their movements,” he added.

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