Agra tourist police gear up for Valentine's Day

Security beefed up around Taj Mahal

Agra's tourist police are on alert keeping Valentine’s Day in mind, which is round the corner. Expecting a huge rush at the 17th century monument of love, the Taj Mahal, police are gearing up to guard against any mischief, especially harassment of foreigners.

"We have a patrol car stationed at the entrance gate of the Taj at all times, as well as six to eight policemen manning the area. On holidays and occasions like Valentine's Day, the number of people visiting the Taj goes up; so we also tighten up security," said Sushant Gaur, chief of the tourist police station.

According to an official of the Archaeological Survey of India, posted at the ticket office of the Taj Mahal, nearly 25,000-30,000 people visit the monument every day.

On holidays and occasions like Valentine's Day, an additional 10,000 come to visit Taj Mahal.

Briton Joe Bright and his wife Sue, for instance, decided to extend their holiday in India to celebrate V-Day in the backdrop of the Taj. “In our itinerary, we were to stay in Agra for two days and then head to Rajasthan. But after seeing the Taj Mahal, we have decided to change things around a bit," Bright said.

For honeymooners Vishal and Aarti Patel, it was a perfect coincidence that Valentine's Day fell during their vacation. "People may call it cliched that we will be visiting the Taj Mahal on Valentine's Day but I think it's really romantic," Aarti said.

With the crowds, however, the possibility of trouble makers also rises, said police.

"The peak season for tourists to visit Agra is between November and January, spilling over to February since the weather is pleasant.  Untoward incidents can happen anytime so we have to always stay alert," said Gaur.

The city's tourist police, were created in 2007 - the third of its kind in the country - after a sexual assault on two Japanese women. They have a manpower of 65, gets 15-20 calls every day. The tourist police, apart from dealing with crime, also addresses other concerns of the foreigners.

 "We also have people calling us for directions to monuments; so our duty is ensure the tourists' safety, act as their guide and see that they go back from Agra with a good impression," he added.

The tourist police station number is displayed on the state government's official website and travel brochures.

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