(An excerpt from Internet)
Of the sixteen high-end cars and several motorcycles that Goa's former Tourism Minister Francisco "Mickky" Pacheco owns, probably two of them mirror the man and his situation most appropriately. One, his white Hummer.
The other - a motorcycle. Parked in an open garage in his village of Betalbatim, 35 kms from Goa's capital Panjim, the fuel-guzzling Hummer reflects the NCP MLA's penchant for being flamboyant, lavish, on-your-face, almost urging you to ask the question: does everything have to always be so over the top?
The comparatively humbler motorcycle – parked diagonally across the Hummer - portrays the deep mess he is in. A custom-made bike that has a decorative but ugly skeleton painted in cheap silver, sprawling ominously over the mean machine, which was gifted to him by actor Jackie Shroff, after the yesteryear Bollywood hero used it in one of his films. If these bundle-of-bones could chuckle as tauntingly as they did in Pirates of the Caribbean, they certainly would have chided Mickky asking him the obvious: Mate, the skeletons are finally out, huh?
For a man who reportedly began earning his livelihood as a humble tailor to owning that wallet-emptying Hummer to now almost being accused of murdering his "close companion" 28-year-old Nadia Torrada, it has been one turbulent journey. The brouhaha around this case has now subsided and it's perhaps a good time to look into the details of this case, which serve as a mirror to understand what ails Goa.
But before we do that, here's a little on this colourful Goan's complex personal life, to get a perspective on this bandana and goatee-sporting legislator.
The 46-year-old former minister is officially married to Sara. But for the last several years, enjoys a live-in relationship with 25-year-old girlfriend Viola Fernandes who has borne him three children. Now, if this wasn't complicated enough, he was also reportedly involved with Nadia, a young married woman who he claims was only a "family friend". (This actually goes a step further where some whisper, there was also a fourth woman, but since it is impossible to prove it, we will consider it to be mere rumour-mongering.)
Mickky is currently going through a messy divorce in which Sara has also accused him of bigamy, wife-beating, cheating by forging her property papers and of being a nymphomaniac. Mickky isn't exactly in the league of a Tiger Woods, but he's quite comfortable with who he is. He had even once publicly proclaimed, justifying his many relationships: I am married only once (to Sara). I can have as many women as I want.
If "problem" wasn't already written all over, suddenly, one fine morning in mid-May, Nadia consumes an entire tube of Rattol - a rat poison. A fortnight later, she dies in a Chennai hospital. Her family says Nadia consumed it thinking it was toothpaste. (Now come on, even to brush one's teeth, does anyone consume an entire tube of toothpaste?)
Mickky and his officer on special duty Lyndon Monteiro are grilled for an entire day by sleuths of the Goa Crime Branch. "Mickky entered the police station brimming with confidence and promised to speak to the media once his questioning got over. When he came out nine hours later, tension and fear were written all over his face," a local journalist recounts.
The next day, both of them "disappear". Soon enough they were charged with culpable homicide not amounting to murder, abetment to suicide and destroying evidence. The police claim:
  • Eleven injuries on Nadia's body, two of them caused by hard and blunt weapon
  • Injuries on arms, hands, thighs shoulder, chest lower lip
  • Evidence destroyed and cleaned up systematically by Mickky
  • Nadia's mobile, passport, laptop, rat poison tube missing
  • Large sums up to Rs 40 lakh given to Nadia's family
  • Nadia's mother helped destroy evidence
  • Mickky was constantly in touch with Nadia for two days before she consumed poison
The police asked the following questions:
  • Did Mickky himself physically force Nadia to consume the poison?
  • Did Mickky's actions (read harassment) force Nadia to consume poison?
  • Did Mickky physically assault Nadia?
  • Did Mickky try and buy the silence of the Torrado family which whole-heartedly supports him?
The drama finally ended a month later – wow! For over 30 days, the Goa police just couldn't trace him! - after the Sessions court, the High Court and the Supreme Court all threw out Mickky's plea for anticipatory bail. Left with no option - or rather facing the risk of being declared a proclaimed offender - he surrendered before a court in Margao and surprisingly, in spite of the apex court order, sought bail even before the police could arrest him! Lawyers say, what was even more startling was that the court even heard him out, whereas it could have outright rejected the application.
Sent to cool his heels in jail, mysteriously just as he was being taken to the lock-up, he suffered a bout of hypertension, which was followed by jaundice. As expected, he was admitted to the comforts of an ICU, but as you would have guessed, not many believe he was really ill. Now, finally he has been granted bail. Meanwhile, Nadia's mother Sonia has also been booked under the same charges.
Predictably, he has denied it all. "I have been trapped by my political rivals as I am outspoken and only speak the truth,'' Mickky, wearing a white kurta pyjama – a far cry from the bicep-hugging T-shirts he normally wears - explained to me in court after he surrendered.
It's hard not to believe these allegations, especially since this isn't his first brush with the law. He's accused of thrashing a driver in a case of road rage, of hurling abuses at a traffic cop, and of extorting money from the management of a Goa casino.
But apart from the basic guiding principle, that every case has to be judged independently, by its merits and demerits, Mickky has a point. In this tiny state, inter-party and inter-coalition rivalries between the Congress and the NCP are even more bitter than the equation Congress and BJP politicians share in Goa! Mickky claims he has been trapped by Home Minister Ravi Naik. Why? Because he accused Naik's son's of being hand-in-glove with the drug mafia. Sensing an opportunity, Naik milked the situation to get even, he insists.
Mickky also claims, to further embarrass him, a Congress-supported women's NGO, is baying for his blood. Again, difficult to ignore as Auda Viegas, president of the NGO Bailancho Ekvott, describes Mickky in an official letter to the Chief Minister, as "an animal on heat", whose "libido bubbles 24 x 7, 365 days a year", that "Mickky is very dangerous to our society because he lures and seduces very young girls..." The tenor and language, certainly raising questions on the authenticity of the NGO's agenda.
And then from nowhere, a "Fight for Nadia Torrado" campaign mushrooms on Facebook - currently the favoured destination for lazy activism - which is again perceived with utmost cynicism, as the work of vested interests.
This is exactly where the problem lies and goes beyond Mickky. Every time a high profile politician is accused of an offence, immediately there are claims of biased investigation. Political rivals and vested interests are blamed of misusing the police. Political vendetta underlines every such case making it that much harder to know where lies the truth. Crime and corruption are unfortunately, never viewed independent of the politics that plays out in Goa.
And while this is something that happens in other states too, what further complicates matters in Goa specifically, is the close fight for numbers. Cursed with perennial political instability, Goa's 40 member-assembly has always been at the mercy of a few MLAs who hold key to who forms the government. For the support these MLAs offer, they openly demand in exchange plum portfolios or favours, especially in times of crisis.
No wonder, the list of wrongdoings is long. Illegal mining, drug mafia, land grab, environmental degradation, rapes, murders or the overall degeneration, Goa hits a new low with every scam.
"Goa's Chief Minister Digambar Kamat's seat is never secure. If he gives in to the demands of a few MLAs, then legislators of his own party, the Congress, will work against his interests," explains a minister from the Kamat government. "Today, he survives only because he doesn't open his mouth."
As I ended my interview with him, Mickky promised more fireworks. "Wait and watch, how I get back. Mickky will remain Mickky. I am politically down, but I am not out."
Watch this space.
Even as Goa screams SOS , the great circus continues. 2 months ago……….


Anonymous said...

Well, well, well. We shall wait and we shall watch as they say, best is yet to come.

Trevor said...

I don't know if we will see justice in this case. If the CBI is taking so long to make a case when they had the information already, I just don't understand. Politicians always will go free. Look at the Monster Rat family with the rapist son...they got so many gundars to threaten the justice system. The justice system is then too scared to act. It infuriates me, cause I am so used to seeing justice being served swiftly in the progressive countries i live in. The way these people carry out their investigations are like typical third world countries. They walk into crime sites with inadequate training, pick up evidence that is not sealed and walk away with it like they are carrying a newspaper home. Only the poor are thrown into the prison. I also think we need to encourage and stress more education for the youth of Goa, as they are turning into gundars to serve the politicians.

Unknown said...

The saying goes well for this criminal...Chorak sodanch vhodlem tond. Every dog has it's day.

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