Goa to check antecedents of Kashmiris, foreign students (Lead)

December 4th, 2008 - 7:51 pm ICT by IANS  

Panaji, Dec 4 (IANS) After bringing Kashmiris working in Goa under the scanner, Chief Minister Digambar Kamat Thursday said that foreign students studying in the state will also be screened in view of the Mumbai terror strikes.Kamat told a press conference here: “We have geared up our machinery to counter any contingency. There is no mistaking the seriousness of the situation.

“The police will check the records of all foreign students enrolled in educational institutions in Goa. Each campus will be visited and the attendance records of every student will be analysed,” he said.

Chief Secretary J.P. Singh told IANS that those students who failed to attend classes for inordinately long durations would be questioned. “If we find anything suspicious, we will act immediately.”

According to records available with the state administration, Goa has several hundred foreign students mainly from African and Arab countries enrolled in various courses.

Some months back the Goa police had cracked the whip on an English language teaching institute in Panaji. It had several Yemeni students on its rolls who rarely attended classes.

Kamat also said the state will raise an additional battalion of 1,200 reserve policemen in order to maintain a stricter vigil over coastal areas which are being perceived as a major area of concern as far as security of the state is concerned.

Several star hotels located along the coastline have been provided with police commandos to counter any terrorist incursion from the seas.

Foreign students are not the only ones who are being closely watched. Kashmiris living in the tourism pockets have been directed to report to police stations for the purpose of verification.

Hundreds of Kashmiris reside in and around the coastal resort town of Colva, trading in carpets and trinkets. They were directed to visit nearby police stations Wednesday and told to furnish their residential, business and personal details.

“This is not the first time we are carrying out this drive. We will send the details back to Jammu and Kashmir and verify their antecedents,” Dharmesh Angle, inspector in charge of Colva police station, told IANS.

Another police official claimed that several Kashmiris indulged in narcotics trade and the routes and contacts used to smuggle in contraband products could easily be tapped by a terrorist network.

“The numerous arrests of Kashmiris involved in drug trade in Goa is reflective of their involvement. This verification drive is a means to keeping their movements and identities in check,” he claimed.

Besides Colva, other areas like Calangute have a high density of Kashmiris who travel to Goa during the tourist season for the purpose of trade.

The government move has angered Kashmiris.

“Traders from other states too come to Goa. Why are they not being made a part of these verification drives?” asked a 36-year-old Kashmiri who runs a Tibetan artefact stall near the Calangute market.

According to police records, nearly 4,000 Kashmiris visit Goa every season for tourism related trade.

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