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The casino industry in Goa has seen several big upheavals this year. While the offshore casinos struggled with a monumental hike in license fee, their continued operations over River Mandovi heated the political environment, with the chief opposition party in the state, i.e. Congress demanding their quick re-location.
In a fresh controversy, the Congress has now claimed that three employees of a casino located in North Goa were taken hostage and beaten up by the casino management. According to Congress, the casino charged these employees with financial misappropriation to the tune of ₹1.80 Crores and not only kept them captive, but also deprived them of food for five days.
Addressing a press conference on the incident, Congress MLA Nilkanth Halarnkar demanded a probe by the home ministry.
“We are demanding a home ministry probe into this inhuman act. How can anyone lock employees in a room for five days, beat them up and deprive them of food, holding them hostage?” Halankar said.
He added that the three employees were kept hostage from December 16-20 in the casino that is operating from a five-star hotel. They were eventually rescued by a North Goa district police team.
Halarnkar charged the police for allegedly taking a backseat in initiating an investigation in the matter and claimed that they were hand in glove with the casino management. “Our question is why was no FIR filed against the casino, which had taken these boys hostage? This is despite the fact that a police team had to rescue the three persons from the custody of the casino,” he said.
Halarnkar said that one of the employees, identified as Chandan Pant, is a Nepali and worked as a cage supervisor at the casino’s cash desk. After being rescued, Pant has, in a written complaint to the Director-General of Police (DGP) said that he had been coerced by the police not to file a complaint against the casino management.
Meanwhile, a Business Standard report quoted a North Goa district police spokesperson as stating that police action was not taken after the rescue, since the three men did not wish to pursue a formal complaint.
While the BJP-led government in Goa has kept quiet on the incident till now, with the Congress firmly in picture, the incident may take a deeper political hue in the days to come.