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HindustanTimes Fri,29 Aug 2014

MP, heart of India, is tourists' nightmare

Neeraj Santoshi, Hindustan Times  Bhopal, March 18, 2013
First Published: 09:40 IST(18/3/2013) | Last Updated: 11:56 IST(18/3/2013)

This is not the first time that a Swiss national or a foreign tourist has been targeted in Madhya Pradesh.

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In the winter of 2005, Swiss tourist, Geneva-based Jacqueline Roseres was duped of of nearly Rs. 10 lakh for a tribal welfare project by her project partner from Chhatarpur. Roseres filed an FIR but the betrayal left her bitter.

In January last year, in Khajuraho, 21-year old French tourist Sarah Nurjok filed a complaint with Khajuraho police that while she was celebrating with her friend at a hotel on December 31, the hotel owner and two local guides tried to extort money from her and to molest her.

In January 2012, a Singapore-based businesswoman was allegedly molested on board a flight to Bhopal. The 31-year-old victim, who lives in Singapore but originally hailed from Bhopal, was coming to Bhopal when she was allegedly molested by a passenger on-board.

She lodged a complaint against the accused with the Gandhi Nagar police and case was registered under section 354 of IPC for molestation.

Some tourists who had been duped in MP have shared their feelings on various online travel forums and social sites, which is embarrassing for the Madhya Pradesh authorities.

London-based Penny, shared her ordeal on a website www.indiamike.com about her camera theft at Kanha. She writes, "I went to Kanha National Park in March 2010. I stayed at a hotel…. I was travelling alone (female) and I was robbed in my room whilst I was sleeping. I had my camera and money stolen 3 hours after checking in; it was very frightening because it is a very secluded area and the hotel staff was not friendly."

"My door was bolted but access was gained through the window…. I reported the incident to the police and told the hotel manager that I would put this on the net to warn women travelling alone. Do be careful of this place, if you are a woman travelling alone you need to be careful at this place. I think I was set up as after checking in I went to eat; on my return a small animal was in my room; the manager suggested I move room, which I did. The new room had easy access and I was robbed whilst I slept."

The absence of a separate tourist police force is being felt by many now. Compared to domestic, foreign tourists have greater risk of being harassed or cheated.

A critical study on tourism activities at Bhimbetka has highlighted the security and safety concerns, it says, "the area and the approach to Bhimbetka are deserted and it is difficult to find any traffic on the Bhimbetka approach road. So visitors are prone to high risk in that region."


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