KARNATAKA

Srirangapatna incident shocks tourists visiting Mysore

Laiqh A. Khan and Muralidhara Khajane

17 tourists from Tamil Nadu were assaulted, robbed



That the victims were from Tamil Nadu added to the assailant’s fury

Tourism industry worried about the impact of the incident on the number of people visiting the city



MYSORE: The recent attack on a group of visitors from Tamil Nadu at Srirangapatna near here while they were on their way to Mysore to witness the Dasara celebrations has raised serious concerns over the safety and security of tourists in the region.

The victims — a group of 17 relatives comprising men, women and children — not only lost their valuable jewellery and cash in their possession, but were left tending to the wounds inflicted by a mob of hooligans at Ganjam in Srirangapatna near here.

While one among the tourists, who suffered serious head injuries in the attack, was being treated at K.R. Hospital in the city, the rest of the panic-stricken victims with minor injuries, who are cooped up in a lodge here, are yet to come out of the nightmare.

Although the immediate provocation for the assault was the alleged refusal of the tourist’s vehicle driver to allow two local motorcyclists to overtake them, the tourists are reasonably justified in blaming the parochial sentiments harboured by not only the assailants, but also the police who initially refused to register a complaint.

“After abusing us for the language we speak and the religion we follow, they beat us with clubs and punched our women, including a pregnant one, even as the panic-stricken children in the vehicle were crying with shock. They snatched our jewellery and cash. The worst part is the apathetic attitude of the police, who refused to initially register a complaint,” said Ashrafulla, one of the victims.

“Does one have to be conscious of one’s State registration number plate on the vehicle in which one is travelling, the language one speaks and the religion to which one belongs when touring the region?,” he wondered.

The bulk of tourists visiting Mysore come from Kerala and Tamil Nadu despite the recent increase in entry tax for tourist vehicles imposed by the State Government. The unsavoury attack on the Mysore-bound tourists at Srirangapatna could not only dent the city’s tourism potential, but also trigger avoidable tensions between States and communities. Further, it could give vested interests a handle to drive a wedge among different sections of the people.

“If such incidents had been handled properly by the local police, it would have instilled confidence and security among the other tourists. Now, these incidents have been reported in newspapers in the neighbouring States. It will be a major setback for tourism industry here as visitors will not come here,” said Shakoor, a resident of Mysore, who helped provide shelter to the victims. Curiously, not long ago the then Inspector-General of Police (Southern Range) R.P. Sharma had envisaged the concept of tourism police to not only give guidance to visitors, but also provide security to them.

Mr. Sharma’s proposal to raise tourism police came in the wake of attack on places of religious and tourist places by anti-social elements. After back to back burglaries of the ancient Yoga Narasimha Swamy Temple at Melkote and Sri Ranganatha Swamy Temple at Srirangapatna, both in Mandya district, Mr. Sharma felt that tourist places had become vulnerable to attacks by anti-social elements.

He had instructed the Superintendents of Police of the five districts, including Mysore and Mandya, to establish a security infrastructure by roping in fit volunteers to assist the local police, besides requesting the Government to post 265 Home Guards to protect tourist and religious places.

Tourism industry experts have suggested establishment of a tourist helpline that can come to the rescue of tourists in distress.

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