Panaji, March 10 (IANS) Three taxi drivers have been arrested in Goa for assaulting nine Ukrainian tourists, including battering two women with sticks and stones, police said Thursday.
According to eyewitnesses, two Ukrainian women Oheru Fedoruk and Serhiv Kvachuk, both in their twenties, were brutally assaulted with sticks and stones by a gang of taxi drivers near a popular supermarket Tuesday evening in the coastal village of Candolim, 10 km from here.
The two are still recovering from their injuries in a hospital.
Eye witnesses said that the police did not arrive at the scene of crime for more than two hours after the incident.
Eyewitnesses said that the squabble began after a tourist taxi swerved dangerously close to the group of Ukrainian tourists walking along the road.
After the tourists confronted the driver, other drivers joined in and the argument snowballed into a free for all, with other drivers in the vicinity joining in the physical assault.
'First three taxi drivers beat up the women with sticks and their fists. Then other taxi drivers joined them and they started scouring the area, asking passing foreigners if they were Russians,' an eyewitness told IANS.
Incidentally, no complaint was filed until 24 hours after the incident. All through Tuesday, the police had completely denied that the incident had even occurred.
'We registered the complaint only after one of the Ukrainian women was in a position to record her statement. Until then we could not do any thing,' Superintendent of police Arvind Gawas told reporters.
Three taxi drivers Agnelo D'Souza, Rohit Nagvenkar and Suresh Naik have been arrested for the assault, he added.
Goa's unregulated and powerful tourist taxi operators lobby has been in the news on numerous occasions for clashes with tourists, both foreign and domestic, for over-charging and misbehaviour.