Paddy fields, India
US tourist Caitanya Holt allegedly choked on muddy water after falling into a paddy field in Goa, India REUTERS/Amit Dave

The US consulate has raised questions over the death of an American tourist who died in a paddy field in the Indian coastal state of Goa. Officials from the consulate in Mumbai have arrived in the sunny state to investigate the death and get a proper post-mortem performed on the deceased, identified as 30-year-old Caitanya Holt.

According to reports, the incident occurred on 12 January, when the man was allegedly chased by a mob to the paddy fields. Villagers on the outskirts of the state's capital Panaji had mistaken Holt for a thief and started assaulting him. He then ran to the fields and died after choking on muddy waters.

A police officer was quoted as saying that the man was eventually pulled out from the slush with the help of ropes and was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead on arrival. Umesh Gaonkar said Holt was identified after his passport was recovered.

The officer claimed that villagers suspected Holt of being a thief after he allegedly entered some of the houses. Unable to understand his accent, locals from the area started chasing him.

Now, the US consulate officials are investigating the matter. "They [US officials] inspected the field in which Holt choked in the mud and also inquired with villagers in the vicinity. They are scheduled to attend the post-mortem proceedings," an unnamed police official was quoted as saying by news agency IANS.

American authorities have asked for further clarification regarding the case as they have come across numerous loopholes. Indian authorities have been requested to provide more details about his death and Holt's family in the US has been contacted, said Heidi Hattenbach, a consular information officer.

Meanwhile, the Congress opposition party in Goa is accusing the local government of hushing up the matter and has demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation probe the case.

Goa Congress spokesperson Sunil Kawathankar said, "This is the first time somebody has died of choking on mud as Goa's paddy fields are not known to have marshy lands." The beach state of Goa who's economy runs largely on tourism has seen a rise in deaths of tourists, both domestic and international. There has also been a rise in cases of rape, assault and robbery being reported by visitors to the former Portuguese colony.