The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Touts held for fleecing tourists

Siliguri, June 1: Five “touts” were arrested from the Tenzing Norgay Bus Terminus here last night for over-charging Pelling-bound tourists who wanted to hire a taxi.

The arrested five were trying to squeeze out a much bigger amount than the Rs 1,300 specified by the government for taxis going to Pelling in Sikkim.

Raju Chouhan, Chandan Kanti, Raju Mangar, Bhim Bahadur Biswakarma and Mandir Biswakarma were caught red-handed by a police team acting on a tip-off.

“In the past month, 29 people have been arrested from Pradhan Nagar and adjacent areas for cheating tourists. Tourists face harassment from different quarters — travel agents, hotel touts and drivers — and we have been closely monitoring their activities for some time. One of those arrested yesterday was a flying tout and the rest drivers,” said officer-in-charge of Pradhan Nagar outpost Abhijit Das.

The police had arrested 12 touts from Matigara last week on a similar charge. More than 100 touts have been arrested from Darjeeling and Siliguri in the past month, police sources said.

“The move is part of our drive for the tourist season. There is a heavy rush of trippers this year and men in mufti have been deployed across the town for surprise raids,” Siliguri additional superintendent of police Rajeev Mishra said.

Harassment by touts at the main tourist entry points, particularly the New Jalpaiguri station, the bus terminus and Matigara, is a cause for concern for the tourism industry, on an upswing this year after several seasons of dwindling profits.

“As we received a lot of complaints last season, we launched a special drive this year,” said Darjeeling superintendent of police Sanjay Chander.

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