Attracting tourists with palaces and forts is old hat. The tourism department of Rajasthan has devised an innovative way to give them a slice of Incredible India — a date with erstwhile dacoits.
The department is mulling a proposal to allow tourists to interact with surrendered bandit kings and queens of the Chambal river valley. To begin with, tourists will be taken to dacoit-infested districts such as Dhaulpur, Bharatpur and Karauli.
Former dacoits like Roop Singh, Madho Singh and Bhanwar Singh have welcomed the move, saying that it will help them merge with the mainstream. “If meeting with tourists can help create jobs, I am all for it,” says Roop Singh.
“The very idea of having the morning cuppa with a bandit on the banks of the Chambal will appeal to tourists,” says a travel agent.
However, some tour operators are wary of the risk involved. But a tourism ministry official allayed their doubts. “We’ll make the process completely safe. The area, with its terrain, wildlife and culture, has always had immense tourism potential, but it could not be developed as a tourist destination because of crime.”
Is the dacoit threat extinct then? Far from it — Top cops of Uttar Pradesh, Rajasthan and Madhya Pradesh met at Agra only last week to deal with the menace in the forest areas bordering the three states.