The Central government of India is taking serious note of the rise of crimes against foreign tourists, especially women.
As part of the move, state governments have been asked to deploy a force of ex-servicemen in prominent tourist destinations. This is to provide adequate protection to visitors from unscrupulous elements.
This suggestion was made by the tourism ministry at a meeting of state tourism secretaries in view of the shortage of police personnel to undertake such tasks and the reluctance of most state governments to set up a special police force for tourists.
The ministry visualized the creation of a "trained, dedicated and disciplined" watchdog force consisting of ex-servicemen to solve this problem.
The tourism ministry has offered to help state governments in setting up such special units by coordinating between them and the Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR) which is under the defense ministry. The expenditure incurred will have to be borne by state governments , says Union Tourism Secretary S Banerjee.
"Here is a bank of completely trained and disciplined personnel. We are asking states to make use of their services," Banerjee was quoted. The DGR has proposed a model in which ex-servicemen will function as tourist wardens or "tourist buddies" in each state after proper training for the job. The suggestion has received a favorable response from state officials, so far.
Meanwhile the Mumbai police have launched a dedicated helpline at Crawford Market's main police control room. This is meant for receiving and registering molestation complaints and for helping such victims.
Calls to the help line will be routed immediately to the concerned police station where policemen will be dispatched immediately.
The city police was stung by all-round criticism after the media group Hindustan Times exposed the molestation of two women in Juhu during New Year celebrations and the subsequent police inaction. This helpline is part of the action promised by Police Commissioner D.N. Jadhav .
Another case of molestation of flight attendants has been added to the previous one by Jaipur businessman Ved Prakash on a GoAir flight. This time abroad a Goa-Mumbai-Delhi SpiceJet flight, on January 21, Delhi resident Raj Singh Hooda allegedly groped four female attendants . According to the first information report filed , Hooda was drunk when he boarded the plane. The four victims told police that he started groping them once the flight took off from Mumbai. In spite of several warnings, Hooda refused to behave. He was then handed over to the police as soon as the flight landed.
A SpiceJet spokesperson, confirming the incident, said: "We have filed a complaint."
Aviation experts opine that the industry would have to plan for such challenges as low-cost carriers like SpiceJet and GoAir have dramatically changed flier profiles in India. "Till half a decade ago when air travel was limited to the well-to-do sections of society, such incidents were rare," says Gurcharan Bhatura, secretary-general, Federation of Aviation and Sustainable Tourism.