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Five women in UK fight for justice for their kin they have lost in Goa over the years

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A beach in Goa, Pixabay
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Panaji, March 22, 2017: Even as a debate rages in Goa over the safety of foreign tourists, especially after the rape and murder of Irish tourist Danielle McLaughin, five women met over coffee in Glouchestershire county in the UK to fight for justice for their kin they have lost in the Indian state over the years.

Among those present at the Boston Tea Party cafe in Cheltenham on Sunday were Fiona Mackeown, who has been battling a reluctant Indian justice system after her teenaged daughter Scarlett Keeling was killed in 2008, Amanda Bennett, who lost her brother Stephen in mysterious circumstances in 2006, Minna Pirhonen, who lost her son Felix Dahl in 2015, and Maureen Sweeney, sister of Denyse Sweeney who also died in Goa in 2010. A fifth woman was also present.

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According to Mackeown, apart from writing a letter to the Indian and UK Prime Ministers, the group is in the process of using the social media platforms to create awareness about the perils of Goa as a tourism destination.

“We all agreed to share and spread our stories in any way we can to raise awareness that it is dangerous to go to Goa, and of how many people have actually died under suspicious circumstances. We will lobby tourism companies to put pressure on them to advise tourists to go elsewhere,” Mackeown told IANS on Wednesday.

Mackeown’s daughter Scarlett was drugged, sexually assaulted and left to die on north Goa’s Anjuna beach in 2008. Two beach shack workers, who were arrested in connection with the crime, were acquitted by a trial court last year. The case is now in appeal before the Panaji Bench of the Bombay High Court.

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Bennett told IANS that the statistics of foreign tourists dying in Goa were alarming and the authenticity of the investigation process in the coastal state were dubious.

“The modus operandi is very predictable. The lack of investigation and blaming the victim to mitigate these murders is the status quo. All victims are deliberately maligned when the family asks questions. We are all aware that these crimes are organised and the police facilitate criminals as long as bribes are paid before the murder,” she claimed.

Her sister Denyse was found drugged and dead in Anjuna, even as the post mortem ruled out foul-play blaming overdose for the death.

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Sanna Cutter claims that instead of demanding justice as individual families, coming together as a group and connecting with more kin, who have victims slain in Goa, could be fruitful.

“The families will be going forward as a group now. We are connecting with more families of victims worldwide. So far no one has been prosecuted for the crimes. Instead all the killers are still walking free,” she told IANS.

Cutter also said that the non-committal expatriate community in Goa, many of whom are involved in tourism-related business, should take a stand on these ‘mystery’ deaths.

“We truly hope they have the same interests in their (expats) hearts as we do. This time around the approach ‘love and light’ won’t be enough. If they do not take action or demand anything to be done about this sad situation taking place in Goa, then that can be taken as agreeing with the corrupt system,” she said.

“That would also make them as corrupt as the place where they have made their homes and opened their businesses,” she added.

One of the most popular beach tourism destinations in India, Goa attracts nearly four million tourists every year, half a million being foreigners. Over the years, the state has also been under spotlight for crimes against tourists as well as easy availability of drugs and narcotics substances. (IANS)

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3 Best Travel Experiences in India You Should Not Miss

India is steeped in culture and history.

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Beaches in India. Pixabay

About 60% of polled vacationers rate travel experiences as more important than material possessions. Curated experiences rank high on the list of voyagers this year and in 2019, the trend is expected to continue according to an independent survey commissioned by Booking.com. If you are planning a trip to India, there are several experiences that you should not miss from checking in at a luxurious royal hotel and estate tea visits to temple tours and mountain sun rise excursions.

Arrange a Yoga Retreat

The country is a dream destination for yogis with many places to choose from. A yoga retreat might just be what you need to relax and discover your inner self. A relaxing vacation is not only rejuvenating but also offers a glimpse of a different lifestyle.

 

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In order to comprehend better, the Indian seers constructed the special “BOAT” – named Yoga/Meditation. Pixabay

While the practice of yoga in the West focuses on physical postures and sequences, a yoga retreat in India offers benefits by emphasizing breathing, meditation and cleansing. In addition, you’ll be exposed to devotional practices such as chanting and karma yoga. A typical retreat consists of an inclusive stay at specialist accommodation such as a hotel, yoga camp or school but if you want to save on accommodation costs, you can just drop in daily or sign-up for shorter courses.

 

Go on a Tour of the River Ganges

To continue your spiritual journey, organize a tour of the Ganges, the third largest river that flows through the country. Named after the Hindu goddess, Ganga, it is one of the most sacred places in India with religious festivities and burial rites taking place at the river’s banks. Pilgrims come from far to cleanse themselves with the holy water in the Ganges.

 

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River Ganga is one of the holiest rivers in India. Pixabay

 

The river starts at the Himalayas and drains into the Bay of Bengal. Enjoy the sights and sounds of the Ganges River while on a cruise. If you have the opportunity, sign-up for a walking tour along the Ganges in Varanasi.

Get Up Close with Hindu Gods

With over 2 million Hindu temples in India, deciding where to go might prove difficult. But if you want to cover the most temples during your visit, head to the state of Tamil Nadu. It is not for nothing that it is known as the ‘Land of the Temples’ boasting of almost 33,000 ancient places of worship. In total, there are 38,615 temples according to the Tamil Nadu Hindu Endowments Board.

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Most of the temples situated in Tamil Nadu were built during the historic and medieval period

Marvel at the Brihadishvara Temple dedicated to the Lord Shiva. It is one of the largest South Indian temples and features exceptional architecture. Don’t forget the Meenakshi Amman Temple in Madurai decked with thousands of colorful figures of gods, animals and demons.

Also Read: Best Casinos in India

India is steeped in culture and history. With so many things to offer its visitors, you’ll have plenty of choices when it comes to unique travel experiences that cater to your senses and personal preferences.