Agra tourist police gear up for V-Day (With Image)

February 11th, 2012 - 3:37 pm ICT by IANS  

Agra, Feb 11 (IANS) Valentine’s Day is round the corner and Agra’s tourist police are on alert. Expecting a huge rush at the 17th century monument to love, the Taj Mahal, police are gearing up to guard against any mischief, especially harassment of foreigners.

“We have a patrol car stationed at the entrance gate of the Taj at all times, as well as six to eight policemen manning the area. On holidays and occasions like Valentine’s Day Feb 14, the number of people visiting the Taj goes up; so we also increase our forces in the area,” Sushant Gaur, chief of the tourist police station, told IANS.

According to an official of the Archaeological Survey of India (ASI), posted at the ticket office of the Taj Mahal, nearly 25,000-30,000 people visit the monument every day. On holidays and occasions like Valentine’s Day, an additional 10,000 come to the wonder of the world.

Briton Joe Bright and his wife Sue, for instance, decided to extend their holiday in India so that they could celebrate V-Day in the backdrop of the Taj.

“We have long wanted to come to India and we finally managed to plan a trip this January. In our itinerary, we were to stay in Agra for two days and then head to Rajasthan. But after seeing the Taj Mahal, we have decided to change things around a bit,” Bright said.

“The beauty, magnanimity and essence of the Taj is unparalleled. This trip to India is a gift for my wife, and I don’t think there would be a better way to cap the trip than by celebrating Valentine’s Day here. So even if it means coming back to Agra after Jaipur and extending our vacation by a few days, it’s worth it,” said the 50-year-old.

For honeymooners Vishal and Aarti Patel, it was a perfect coincidence that Valentine’s Day falls during their vacation.

“People may call it cliched that we will be visiting the Taj Mahal on Valentine’s Day, but it doesn’t really matter to us. I think it’s really romantic,” Aarti said.

With the crowds, however, the possibility of mischief makers also rises, said police.

“The peak season for tourists to visit Agra is between November and January, spilling over to February since the weather is pleasant. It’s not necessary that just because there is a large crowd, there has to be an untoward incident. We cannot take chances,” said Gaur.

“Just a few days back, we got a call about two women from South Korea being harassed by three boys in the Taj Mahal. The boys, two of whom were from Meerut, tried to befriend the women and wanted to take their photographs, but on their refusal, they tried to force them,” he said.

“The women raised an alarm and the people nearby soon got hold of the boys and called us,” he added.

The city’s tourist police, who have a manpower of 65, gets 15-20 calls every day. The force was created in 2007 - the third of its kind in the country - after a sexual assault on two Japanese women.

Not all calls made to tourist police station are related to crime. “The other day a Japanese tourist called to complain about an autorickshaw driver who refused to go to a certain place. Then again, I got a call at 3 a.m. one day from a German tourist who said that his bathroom tap was leaking and he couldn’t sleep, while the hotel refused to change his room,” Gaur said.

“We also have people calling us for directions to monuments; so our duty is ensure the tourists’ safety, act as their guide and see that they go back from Agra with a good impression,” he added.

The tourist police station number is displayed on the state government’s official website and travel brochures. The staff can also be reached by calling the national toll free number 100, but efforts were on to have a dedicated helpline telephone number soon, said Gaur.

(Azera Rahman can be contacted at azera.rahman@gmail.com)

Related Stories

    Posted in Uncategorized |

    Subscribe