Women to be given preference in tourist security forceMarch 19th, 2008 - 11:55 am ICT by admin
By Kavita Bajeli-Datt
New Delhi, March 19 (IANS) Women will be given preference in the Tourist Security Force to be formed in Indian states for the safety and security of tourists in the wake of the murder of British teenager Scarlette Keeling in Goa. The proposal by the tourism ministry underlines that the force, which will have ex-servicemen only, will be deployed at important tourists places, railway and bus stations and airports.
“All the personnel of the tourist security force would comprise ex-servicemen. Women would be given preference while selecting personnel for the Tourist Security Force,” a ministry official told IANS.
The objective is to facilitate the safety and security of tourists and provide the required information to visitors for a safe visit.
A number of cases of harassment and molestation have surfaced in the past few months involving foreign tourists to the country. Fifteen-year-old Scarlette’s murder on Feb 18 in Goa made the ministry give concrete shape to its model guidelines.
The proposal, which was sent to all states and union territories March 11, is the nature of an advisory and could be modified or amended as per provisions of prevalent acts and regulations in a particular state, the official said.
Tourism Minister Ambika Soni announced the proposal in the Rajya Sabha March 11.
Uttarakhand has already started working on the model as the state has a large number of ex-servicemen.
As per the broad guidelines, the force will also act as a bridge between the tourist and administration, provide necessary information to tourists to facilitate their visit, inform them about tourist spots and also make them aware of undesirable elements.
“This will not be a toothless organisation. The state government would be responsible for giving them appropriate powers under various acts to make it more effective,” the ministry official said.
The force will also act appropriately in an emergency and will liaison with the administration and police on behalf of tourists.
The strength of the force, which will function under the overall supervision of a state government’s tourist department, is yet to be decided and will solely depend on the state administration.
The force will have three tiers of structure - state headquarters, district and then the destination where it is stationed.
“Special training modules would be deployed for the entire personnel of the Tourist Security Force in consultation with the ministry. The ministry may also provide financial and technical assistance for training under its scheme of capacity building for service providers,” the official noted.
The official said the concerned state, which will also bear the expenditure of setting it up and running the force, will fix a decent package of consolidated pay and other allowances for the personnel.
The force would be provided with sufficient infrastructure and means of communication for its smooth and effective functioning, the official added.
The model also suggests that there should be a helpline whose number should be short so that the tourists can call on it during emergency or for assistance.
The formation of a separate force was discussed at a meeting Jan 24 in New Delhi when Tourism Secretary S. Banerjee had called all state secretaries to chalk out a plan in view of a number of attacks on women tourists.