Taking a serious note of rising incidence of crimes against foreign tourists, particularly women, the Centre on Thursday asked state governments to deploy a force of ex-servicemen in prominent tourist destinations for providing adequate protection to visitors from unscrupulous elements.
The recommendation was made by the tourism ministry at a meeting of state tourism secretaries in view of the shortage of police personnel in states to undertake such a specialised task on a regular basis and the reluctance of most state governments to set up a special police force for tourists.
The ministry suggested the creation of a “trained, dedicated and disciplined” watchdog force comprising ex-servicemen to solve the problem of harassment and molestation of women tourists, which had assumed alarming proportions.
The tourism ministry offered to help state governments in setting up such special units by coordinating between them and the Directorate General of Resettlement (DGR) under the defence ministry. The expenditure incurred on this special force will have to be borne by state governments, according to Union Tourism Secretary S Banerjee, who stated that the modalities of the scheme would be finalised by his ministry within the next two days.
“Here is a bank of completely trained and disciplined personnel. We are asking states to make use of their services,” Banerjee said after the meeting. 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 got a favourable response from state officials, he said.
The meeting was also attended by officials from ministries of home , defence, civil aviation, railways, road transport and highways as well as Delhi Police.