City tops list of crime against foreign tourists

According to the National Crime Records Bureau’s (NCRB) Crime in India 2014 report, out of total 384 cases of crime against foreign tourists registered in 2014, 135 were recorded in Delhi alone. The is the highest among all the states.

In Delhi, trouble often starts at the airport itself.

“In June last year, a taxi driver was arrested by a police constable outside Indira Gandhi International Airport when he was trying to catch hold of passengers by pulling their luggage, promising them cheap taxi service, accommodation and shopping, thus harassing and obstructing their way,” says a Delhi Police officer.

For citizens of certain nationalities, even police offer no solution to their problems.
“Two months back in west Delhi, my friend’s car was damaged by some youngsters as it had brushed their car slightly. When my friend informed one of his friends, he arrived there to see him. However, the locals assumed that my friend had called his friend for help to take revenge, and in the process, he got beaten up by the locals there,” says Huava, a Nigerian studying in Delhi.

“After that, we informed police. A complaint was registered but they kept on asking us to come next day to get the compensation. For five continuous days, we were kept in the impression that we would be getting some financial help by saying ‘come tomorrow’ but we never got any help,” she adds.

Ivan, a website developer from Moscow who frequently visits India with his wife, feels things have changed.

“I have been coming here for the last 10 years. I have seen a marked change in the behaviour of Indians in the last three-four years as they have started to ape the West in terms of materialistic growth and in the process, forgetting the values which traditionally had held society for so long,” opines Ivan.

Most foreigners feel taxi drivers and shopkeepers are the ones who trouble them the most and the response of police remain casual.

To help tourists, the tourist police wing which falls under the police control room of Delhi Police is deployed at 10 locations – IGI Airport, New Delhi railway station, Hazarat Nizamuddin railway station, Raj Ghat, Red Fort, Qutub Minar, Palika Bazar, Janpath, India Gate and Paharganj.

However, the problem with the current system are also many. Instead of being positioned at places like platforms of railway stations and entries to monuments, the staff keeps sitting in the PCR van parked in a corner.

“Tourist at times face several problems related to transport, accommodation, getting tourism-related information, and many times they fall victim to cheats and touts, losing their belongings and valuables,” says a police officer. The officers claim to be trained in public handling and about the city by Delhi Tourism. Their primary objective is to avoid harassment to the tourist by touts.

“We also help guide tourists on local conditions of law and order, security and hazards and places for medical help. We are also approached on matters relating to passport, visas, exchange of currency and on immigration issues,” the officer adds.

It may have helped in creating a secure atmosphere, but many visitors say they are unaware of this service.

Foreign tourists such as Richard from England say policemen are generally nice and helped with directions, but many visitors are apprehensive about their security.

“At night, we don’t feel safe even in crowded places,” says Amber from the USA. She adds that she has to be restrained in public to avoid drawing attention.

“Our travelling group of three women always remains together after being followed while leaving a pub one evening,” Amber tells Deccan Herald.

Ahead of the 2010 Commonwealth Games, there were also plans to set up a police station exclusively to deal with foreign tourists, with its personnel having a good command over English. The police station was to come up at Paharganj, but it never turned into reality.

Last month, the Delhi High Court also observed that the activity of touts and malpractice against tourists have spiked because of lack policemen outside airport and railways stations.

The court made the observation while convicting an autorickshaw driver under the Delhi Prevention of Touting and Malpractices against Tourists Act for luring passengers at the domestic airport.

“Owing to the lack of effective policing in these places, the cab drivers and autorickshaw drivers lure passengers by promising them cheap hotels, low fare travel and other benefits. If the passengers resist the offer, they are mistreated,” the court observed.

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