It is a question that has been asked ever since jihadi terrorists set off bombs at the tourist resort town of Bali in Indonesia four years ago. As television images of hundreds of European and American tourists left dead and injured in the terror bombings streamed in, fears of Goa coming under the terrorists scanner came to the fore.

Though the past few years have been peaceful and the number of foreign tourists coming to Goa likely to cross 400,000 the authorities are keeping their fingers crossed. The detention and questioning of several Muslim suspects from the troubled Indian state of Kashmir only added to the general insecurity.

This year though, the Indian government has openly expressed fears of terrorists targeting tourists from Goa and the local police have been asked to stay on alert especially during the Christmas-New Year period when tourist arrivals peak.

Last week, the top police official of Goa was summoned for a briefing by the Federal Interior Ministry where intelligence reports about tourists being targeted were shared with him.

The Indian government is particularly worried about the security of tourists from Israel. Every year thousands of young Israelis on a gap year after serving in the national army arrive in Goa to chill out at the rave parties. Remote villages like Morjem in North Goa have all night raves with thousands of revellers getting high on ecstasy and other psychotropic substances.

Considering that many of the Israelis may have served in the troubled Palestine region, there are fears that they may be targeted by the jehadi forces. Mossad operatives land up frequently in Goa to keep an eye on the Israeli youth. The Jerusalem Post routine covers the excesses of the visitors from Goa to Manali. But except for the occasional man or woman ODing on some forbidden substance or drowning off the beach, little untoward incident has happened to the Israelis in general.

But will this year be different? Both the local and central governments hope its is not. Popular hangouts in North Goa like the discos at Anjuna, Baga, Calangute and Candolim where European tourists outnumber the local population will now be under the watchlist of state and central agencies. The Wednesday night flea market at Anjuna and the popular Titos pub at Baga may well have several snoops looking around for the black RDX instead of the white cocaine.

The usual suspects like Lashkar-e-Toiba and Jaish-e-Mohammad have been put on the watchlist. The large number of Kashmiris who flock to Goa during the tourist season to sell carpets to foreigners may face a little more harassment this year. And local residents living away from the coast who usually keep away from tourists will pray that yet another season passes off peacefully.

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