Goa: Both Congress and BJP promoted casinos. Beaches were Lashkar targets – Wikileaks

April 19, 2013 by  
Filed under newsletter-india

GoaGoa, April 18, 2013: Both the Congress and the BJP were equally responsible for promoting casinos in Goa, although both parties opposed these when in opposition, a recently declassified USdiplomatic cable released by Wikileaks claims.

The cable, part of the US embassy’s weekly compilation of “economic highlights”, also says the Goa government’s grand plan was to lure Indian gamblers who went to Nepal’s casinos to splurge.

“The Congress party was the first to allow gambling in Goa, when in 1992 it amended the Goa Public Gambling Act to allow slot machines in five-star hotels. Later, table games were permitted offshore, during the tenure of Congress chief minister Pratapsingh Rane,” says the cable (serial number NEW DELHI 00000982 002.2 OF 004) dated April 3, 2008.

“The BJP opposed these developments at the time. Nevertheless, after coming to power in Goa, BJP chief minister Manohar Parrikar (during his earlier tenure from 2000 to 2004) granted a license forCasino Goa to commence operations,” the cable says.

Parikkar is the present chief minister after the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) defeated the Congress in the Goa assembly polls held in 2012.

The cable observes that Goa’s economy is highly dependent on tourism and the state government was hoping that granting five offshore casino licenses will further boost tourism.

It recounts that Goa’s biggest casino Casino Royale, would be located on a ship which will feature rooms and suites to accommodate guests.

“Jaydev Mody, Highstreet Cruises director, stated that the casino will be all-inclusive with slot machines, restaurants, entertainment areas and live music. In the next seven to eight months, Goa plans to construct four other offshore casinos as the state government tries to lure Indian gamblers back to India from Nepal where casinos have been legalised,” it says.

– ians

Beaches were Lashkar targets in 2008: Wikileaks

Goa CasinoGoa, April 18, 2013: Goa’s beaches were in the cross hairs of suspected Lashkar-e-Taiba terror suspect Nasir Raizuddin, being tried for the 2008 Bangalore serial blasts, Wikileaks has claimed citing a recently declassified US diplomatic cable.

The cable, dated February 2008, was drafted by David T. Hopper, then consul general at the US consulate in Chennai.

Hopper quotes top police officials about other areas identified by Riazuddin before his arrest in Karnataka.

According to Hopper, Raziuddin told the police that along with accomplices from the banned Students Islamic Movement of India (SIMI), he had identified sites across the country for a series of bomb blasts.

And “beaches in Goa frequented by foreigners” were one of those specifically identified as targets, according to the diplomatic communique.

Goa has been put on high alert since the 26/11 terror strikes in Mumbai, mainly because the state’s beaches attract over 2.6 million tourists annually, of whom half a million are foreign nationals. The sizeable number of Israeli tourists to the state is another reason why security agencies believe Goa is on the terror radar.

The Goa government has, however, consistently denied receiving any specific intelligence inputs of a potential terror strike.

Among other targets on Raziuddin’s list were the Andhra Pradesh Police headquarters, and Infosys campuses in Bangalore and Mangalore, says the confidential cable numbered 08CHENNAI55.

Then Karnataka additional director general of police Shankar Bidari, superintendent of police of Davangare district in Karnataka Ravendra Prasad, and state home secretary Vatsala Watsa have been quoted in the cable.

Hopper also said that the Karnataka Police had shared intelligence with US officials.

“Shankar Bidari, Karnataka’s Additional Director General of Police for Law and Order, gave us on February 8 two reports on this case. The first is the arrest report, the second covers the interrogation of both suspects,” Hopper said, adding that the documents helped them to create a “bio-data” of the suspects.

Raziuddin’s father, Mohammad Nasiruddin, a Muslim cleric from Hyderabad in Andhra Pradesh, had been arrested in 2004 by Gujarat Police for being part of the conspiracy to murder Gujarat home minister Hiren Pandya.

The cable also says that Indian police believed that Nasiruddin had links to Pakistan’s Inter Services Intelligence (ISI).

– ians

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