Tamluk, Sept. 24: Tourists visiting Digha will have to carry photo ID proof to hotels or else they would be sent to police stations for verification of their identity.
The move by the East Midnapore district administration has come after several cases of criminals reportedly taking shelter in the guise of tourists and some deaths in hotels in the past few months.
The rule for photo ID proof was always there but most small hotels in Digha never implemented it. The fresh drive was started in the first week of September.
Those who are unable to furnish any photo identity proof — voter cards, PAN cards, passports and credit cards that have the holder’s photograph — are being sent to police stations by hotel owners for a verification of their identity there.
“They (the tourists) will be allowed in the hotels only after they obtain police verification certificates,” said the joint secretary of Digha–Shankarpur Hoteliers’ Association, Bipradas Chakraborty.
Manidip Banerjee, who came to Digha with his family on Friday, said he was unaware of the rule and had to obtain a certificate from the local police station before checking into a hotel.
“I had come to Digha two years ago. There was no such rule then. I had no idea that carrying photo identity has become compulsory,” the supervisor of a private company in Calcutta said.
There are around 500 hotels in Digha.
The officer in charge of Digha police station, Ajit Jha, said they were verifying the identities of more than a hundred tourists a day for the past three weeks.
Asked about the procedure, he said: “We are issuing the certificates after verifying their landline numbers or by contacting their panchayat or the municipality councillors.”
Sources said the district administration had issued a notification in October last year making it “compulsory” for tourists to carry photo ID cards. “But the order had not been strictly enforced in some small hotels,” a senior district official said.
The decision to enforce the order, he added, was taken at a meeting last month attended by district magistrate Parvez Ahmed Siddiqui, district superintendent of police Sukesh Jain and representatives of the hotel owners.
According to Jain, there were several cases of miscreants taking shelter in Digha hotels posing as tourists and giving fake addresses. “There are also instances of murders in hotel rooms,” he added.
In December last year, the body of a woman was found in a hotel in Digha. “A couple had come to stay in the hotel. The next morning, the body of the woman was found with multiple injuries,” Jha said.