Everything looked like a movie shooting when Charles Shobhraj was arrested in Goa

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Panaji: Armando Gonsalves still remembers that moment when Police Inspector of Mumbai Crime Branch Madhukar Zende brandished gun to arrest Charles Shobhraj, who was sitting next to them in the O’Coqueiro Restaurant at Porvorim in Goa.
“Everything was normal and the Restaurant was jam packed. The other side of Restaurant had a wedding going on. I was enjoying drinks and dinner with my friend Auspicio Rodrigues when this incident happened,” remembes Gonsalves recalling the evening of 1986 when the Serpentine was arrested in Goa by a team of Mumbai Crime Branch.
Almost 36 years down the line, O’Coequeiro still continues to serve people and is known as a place where Charles was arrested. The Hotel management has put up a statue of Charles in one of the corner of the place which has now become a selfie point for many tourists, who flock here.
Gonsalves remembers that a Foreigner David Hall, who was later identified as a drug paddler, was sitting on a table next to them, and Charles later joined him.
“None of us knew what exactly was happening. For few moments, I thought that it was a movie shooting. But later we realized the seriousness of that moment,” he said.
Gonsalves says that Charles and his partner gave up without a fight but police were not in a mood to take any chance so started searching for a rope to tie him down to the chair.
“I along with my friend rushed to the kitchen and got a rope using which Charles was tied down. Later, he was shoved in a car and police drove to Mapusa town, nearly 6 kms away from Porvorim,” he recalls. Police took a break for a dinner at a Tourism department owned place in Mapusa where Charles continued to be tied with ropes while David was taken around in a car.
“We went with the car on our scooter till Mapusa,” remembers Auspicio Rodrigues adding that Goa Police had not come to the scene till then. Gonsalves and Rodrigues both then accompanied police on their scooter till the State border.
Retired Photojournalist Sunil Naik recalls how soon after getting the information that Charles Shobhraj was arrested, he rushed with his camera to O’Coqueiro.
“By the time I reached there, Charles was already taken by police. I recorded video of the place where he was arrested and then next day sent the tape to Mumbai,” remembers Naik who was then freelancing for Doordarshan from Goa.
“Doordarshan team at Warli Mumbai was waiting for the tape as it had to be aired immediately. Doordarshan later broke the news and that was the time when Parliament was in Session,” he said.
Back to the current times, O’Coqueiro has the statue of Charles Shobhraj. “We plan to put up another statue of PI Madhukar Zende at the Restaurant,” said Shekhar Diwadkar, General Manager of Alcon Anil Counto Enterprise, a hotel group that has taken over O’Coqueiro since the year 1998.
Diwadkar said that the Restaurant has been a talking point of the visitors because of the arrest of Charles Shobhraj here. “The statue is a selfie point right now and the visitors are curious to know about the incident of 1986,” he said.

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