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Retired Army personnel may be roped in as tourist police

The Union Tourism Ministry has come up with a plan to rope in retired Army and Paramilitary personnel to manage security at various national monuments and important tourism sites in the country. The idea to post ‘Tourist Police’ has been floated by many state governments in the past, but going a step further, now Tourism Ministry has almost worked out a plan to use army and paramilitary personnel to ensure that tourists feel safe in the country.  

“To ensure better safety and security of tourists, we are working on a plan wherein retired armymen and paramilitary personnel will be deployed at various national monuments. They will be called “Paryatak Mitra” who will offer guidance apart from ensuring safety and security of the tourists,” said Minister for Tourism and Culture Dr Mahesh Sharma.    

The state governments too have deployed police officials but still complaints about touts troubling and cheating tourists pour in at the ministry. Keeping this in mind, the ministry decided to put at least five-six army and paramilitary personnel as special task force officials under its Paryatak Mitra scheme.

“Paryatak Mitras will be tourist-friendly officials and not operate as regular policemen. They will ensure maximum safety and security of tourists, who at times get robbed by frauds and cheats,” added Sharma.According to ministry sources, the task force will be headed by Tourism Secretary with members from relevant ministries, state governments and UT administrations. With ministry giving a push to niche products like cruise tourism, there are talks to start river police.

The data released by the ministry points out that Foreign Tourist Arrivals in August 2016 rose by 11.8 per cent compared to the same period in 2015. Interestingly, it is the high-end tourists from countries like USA and UK that account for maximum number of Foreign Tourist Arrivals (FTAs). Paryatak Mitras will be trained as guides to assist such tourists.
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