Monkey business at Taj: Officials chase simian after it steals tourist’s purse

  • Hemendra Chaturvedi, Hindustan Times, Agra
  • Updated: Aug 19, 2016 09:07 IST
Agra has been dealing with a monkey menace as reports of simians pouncing on people have increased. (HT File Photo)

A monkey created quite the nuisance at the Taj Mahal on Thursday morning when it snatched a tourist’s purse, keeping authorities on their feet.

A British woman arrived at the iconic monument through its western entrance when the simian pounced on her and made away with her purse. The woman was left momentarily shocked before she apprised Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials present there.

After searching for the monkey throughout the premises, officials managed to track it down and retrieve the purse and most of it contents that had been strewn around.

“On the information, effort was made to trace the monkey and was luckily found in premises of Taj. The purse recovered had passport and dollars which were returned to the lady tourist who chose not to lodge any complaint and went ahead with (her) visit to Taj,” the senior conservation assistant at Taj Mahal, ASI, Munazzar Ali said.

Ali dismissed reports that many of the dollar bills were torn up by the monkey before they could retrieve them. 

Agra has been seeing a rise in monkey-human conflict, but the menace had thus far been largely absent at the Taj Mahal. However, tourists carrying eatables have seemingly attracted trouble. Food items, which are not allowed on the premises, are taken away from visitors at the entry point when security checks are done. The bin in which these are disposed off has drawn begun drawing monkeys, leading to a rise it the population in the area, Ali said.

“The lady tourist did not lodge any written complaint but report about the incident has been forwarded to the ASI office at Mall Road in Agra with request to attend the issue of monkey menace posing threat to tourists visiting Taj Mahal,” Ali said, who has also raised the issue with concerned authorities.

The protected monument, a UNESCO World Heritage site, has been grappling with dogs and monkeys roaming around, but no concrete efforts have been taken to mitigate the problem.

The staff of Agra’s municipal corporation had earlier rounded up strays in the area, however, they return within a few days. 

Similarly, the Agra district administration tied up with specialised bodies to trap monkeys in the city, but to little effect.

At nearby Vrindavan, instances of monkeys snatching tourists’ belongings are common around the renowned Bankey Behari Temple. 

A resident recently lodged a complaint with the National Human Rights Commission seeking action in the matter.

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