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Friday, 21 July, 2000, 13:58 GMT 14:58 UK
'Tourist police' for Rajasthan
Jaipur market
Thousands of shops in Jaipur sell handicrafts and souveniers
By Geeta Pandey in Delhi

Police in Jaipur, capital of India's western state of Rajasthan, are being trained to be more tourist friendly.

Jaipur is one of the most popular tourist destinations in India. It makes up one corner of the "Golden Triangle" - along with the national capital, Delhi and Agra.

About six million tourists, including 700,000 foreigners, visit Rajasthan every year and most of them pass through Jaipur, to see its majestic palaces and forts.

Jaipur's famous Hawa Mahal
Hawa Mahal, or the Palace of Winds, is a major tourist attraction
But the city also attracts thousands of touts and hawkers who hang around places of tourist interest to dupe the gullible and make a fast buck.

Tourists often complain of being cheated or harassed by the hawkers, taxi-drivers, fake guides and beggar.

All that is now expected to change.

From August, specially trained police will ensure that a visit to Jaipur is pleasant for tourists.

Eighteen men and women from Jaipur are being trained for two weeks, on how to deal with tourists and see that they do not get hassled.

The project is a joint effort of the Jaipur police and the Rajasthan tourism department.

The police personnel will also learn the history of their city, the historical significance of its forts and palaces, and about Rajasthan's art and culture.

Arrival points

Their watch will begin at the points of arrival into the city - the airport and the railway station - the favourite hunting ground of touts.

Bill Clinton with daughter Chelsea at Amer Fort
US President Clinton visited Jaipur during his South Asia trip
Rajasthan's Director-General of Police, Ashok Bhandari told the BBC they would also be deployed at places of interest to tourists.

"We are also taking the traders into confidence, telling them that it is in their interest that tourists to the city go back with a positive impression," he said.

"And the police force will step in for legal assistance," he added.

The specially-trained tourist police will wear special badges for easy identification.

Already, the news of a new tourist-friendly police has generated enthusiasm among the tourists in Jaipur.

Sharon Alouf, a jewellery designer from New York who comes to Jaipur every year, said the news was "fantastic".

"I'm very happy to hear about more police control for tourists. I get less hassled if I ride a bike around, but it's really bad if I walk down the road.

"People make all kinds of comments. Anything from 'come into my shop' to 'which country are you from' to ridiculous things like 'would like to smoke the rest of this cigarette!'"

She now hopes her next trip to Jaipur will be more pleasant.

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