You don’t have to be a foreigner to get hassled and harassed at our tourist spots.
On Sunday, a German tourist was thrashed in Uttar Pradesh's Sonbhadra just days after a Swiss couple were beaten up at Fatehpur Sikri.
There is no doubt that the intimidation one faces at tourist spots and even places of worship has grown a lot more hostile.
Not long ago, when we visited these places, the annoyance was financial.
The poor and indigent, infants in their arms, plucked at your sleeves and begged for money: All according to script.
Then, some 'guides' shooed them away—all part of the show folks—and were duly thanked and rewarded.
Even if you were going for a loved one's last rites and wracked with grief, the mob did not spare you.
Beaten by the fates, you simply handed out fistfuls of coins and notes and mindlessly spread your generosity.
The ‘tout’ element still survives, but now has an added layer of organised 'goondaism' which hopes to provoke visitors.
It's just too much a stretch for one to believe that the Swiss couple was kissing in public just when the ruffians happened to be passing by. It's hard to fathom that the aggressive postures of the goons didn't dissuade the couple from their expression of ardour.
Picture this: Two foreigners in a foreign land being watched by angry bullies and saying: Forget about that, let's just carry on kissing.
One thinks not.
Then we have Aman Yadav, the man accused of assaulting the German national at a railway station in Uttar Pradesh.
Yadav was reportedly incensed after the German did not respond to his purported greeting of "Welcome to India". This offended Yadav's sensibilities to such an extent that he felt obligated to preserve our national honour by beating up the tourist.
Have we not walked past men of hissing such messages: You want foreign exchange? Hotel room? Girls? Drugs? Good time?
They come closer and closer, until they're practically in your face, nudging, pushing and making you feel like you're cornered.
But should we expect any better?
After all, in 2016, Tourism Minister Mahesh Sharma said foreign women should not wear skirts or walk alone at night in the country’s small towns and cities. "For their own safety," he said, while discussing tourist security in Agra. He said this in 2016. Which goes to show our mindset.
Let's stop pretending these self-styled crusaders of righteousness and probity are anything but integral members of a gang that often includes taxi drivers, cops and guides. Women travellers have it even worse and are literally heckled from the time they arrive till the time they leave.
Such as the tourists who were assaulted at Alleppey beach, Kerala, in 2014 after they attempted to prevent locals harassing female visitors.
It is indeed sad that global travel websites such as hippieinheels.com and worldnomads.com actually offer tips on India’s top tourist scams.
Our tourist spots are traps. And they're getting worse.
Whether one goes to pray or simply to contemplate life, to turn the pages of history or simply enjoy nature's bounty, it is the baseness of man that one has to watch out for.
Incredible India, this is not.
Published Date: Nov 05, 2017 15:42 PM | Updated Date: Nov 05, 2017 17:54 PM