Survey on to identify multilingual police personnel in city

Last month, a foreigner lost his passport while visiting the world-famous Meenakshi Sundareswarar Temple in the city. Within a few hours, the passport was found. Though the currency notes, kept along with the passport, were missing, the foreigner heaved a sigh of relief on getting the valuable document back. This incident came as a wake up call to the police who have decided to establish an exclusive wing — Tourist Police — to assist visitors to the Temple City.

Many organisations engaged in the tourism industry in Madurai have been seeking government's intervention to set up better facilities for tourists “as timely assistance to the visitors in distress would not only portray a good image of the city but also its residents.

As a first step, Commissioner of Police P. Balasubramanian and his team of officers have started a survey within the city police as to how many personnel are able to converse in more than one language. This will primarily help the police to deploy these personnel in the task of guiding tourists at vantage points.

At kiosks

Recently, the police opened a kiosk near the Aavin junction with, among others, basic information tools useful to the travelling public.

Similar kiosks would come up near railway station and a few other places soon, Deputy Commissioner of Police J. Rajendran said.

Meanwhile, the pro-active approach of the police in establishing the tourist police wing has been welcomed by the Travel Club, Madurai, which has members operating in the hotel and travel industry in different parts of southern districts.

G. Vasudevan, a senior member of Travel Club, said that not only Madurai but other cities also should try the tourist police concept and, more importantly, awareness should be created among tourists of the availability of such a facility.

Information disseminated by the tourist police to the visitors would be more authentic and reliable, said K. Murali, another member of Travel Club. Though different agencies provided information to tourists on various aspects of a city, the role of the police in interacting with visitors, especially in a language known to the visitor, would go a long way in showcasing Madurai as a tourist-friendly city.

N. Sriram, immediate past president of the Travel Club, said that they would be willing to share the requirements of tourists with the law enforcing agency.

A hotelier, K.P. Navaneetha Krishnan, said that the initiative to have ‘tourist police' would be of more help to independent travellers since normally tourists coming on conducted tours do not face problems. The functioning of tourist police would also discourage law offenders, he added.

Vendor nuisance

Police officers at the Meenakshi temple said that more complaints were being received from domestic tourists than visitors from abroad — mostly on harassment by roadside vendors. “Whenever this problem is brought to our notice, we sort it out. Sometimes, when the tourists want us to hire a vehicle to reach a particular place such as Thirumalai Naick Palace, we help them out. Thus the question of fleecing is ruled out,” they noted.