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Wednesday , March 20 , 2013
Since 1st March, 1999
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Briton jumps to escape rape

- 32-year-old injured in fall from first-floor room in Agra hotel

March 19: A British tourist today jumped from a first-floor hotel window to escape an attempted sexual assault in Agra and injured her legs in the fall, police said.

The incident comes a day after the UK foreign office updated its travel advice to warn female travellers of an increased risk of sexual assault in India after the gang rape of a Swiss tourist in Madhya Pradesh last Friday.

The 32-year-old Briton received treatment for a torn ligament after leaping from the room of Agra Mahal, a budget hotel in the Idgah area, about 4km from the Taj Mahal.

The woman, a dentist from London who had checked in on March 17, told the police that she had asked for a wake-up call at 4am.

The hotel owner Sachin Chauhan knocked at her door at 3.45am and offered a “free hand massage” saying it was part of the hotel’s special services for foreign guests, Subhash Chandra Dubey, senior superintendent of police, Agra, told reporters.

She refused and closed the door. But soon, the owner came with a security guard and tried to open the door. The tourist said she locked the room from inside and leapt from the first-floor window to the level below, injuring her leg. She was treated at the district hospital, police said.

Police said the victim had arrived in India three weeks back and travelled to different parts before reaching Agra.

Chauhan, a Delhi native, was arrested on molestation, harassment and other charges, the police said. The hotel owner claimed that he was being falsely implicated as he had gone only to wake her up because she had not responded when the hotel staff had tried ringing her on the intercom.

Additional superintendent of police Pawan Kumar said the woman took an autorickshaw to a police station to report the attack. She was now being looked after at the five-star Taj Mansingh Palace hotel, he added. She is planning to cut short her holiday to return home as soon as possible.

A member of the staff at the hotel, who would not give his name, said he had merely tried to wake the victim in time for an early morning train.

“We don’t know what she thought, but she jumped out of the window of her room,” said the staff member.

The Union tourism ministry has sent a showcause notice to the hotel asking why its licence should not be cancelled.

Tourism minister K. Chiranjeevi has also spoken to home minister Sushil Kumar Shinde about the incident.

A British foreign office spokesperson said: “We are aware of the reports and we are urgently looking into it. We are in contact with our colleagues in India.”

Yesterday, the British foreign office updated its travel advice after the rape of the Swiss tourist. “Women should use caution when travelling in India,” it said. “Reported cases of sexual assault against women and young girls are increasing; recent sexual attacks against female visitors in tourist areas and cities show that foreign women are also at risk.

“British women have been the victims of sexual assault in Goa, Delhi, Bangalore and Rajasthan and women travellers often receive unwanted attention in the form of verbal and physical harassment by individuals or groups of men.”

The foreign office advised women tourists to respect local dress codes and customs and “avoid isolated areas, including beaches, when alone at any time of day”.

The advice further said: “Avoid travelling alone on public transport, or in taxis or auto-rickshaws, especially at night. If you have to use a taxi get them from hotel taxi ranks and use pre-paid taxis at airports.”

Agra is 200km north of Datia, in Madhya Pradesh, where six men have been arrested for the rape of a Swiss tourist on a cycling tour with her husband.

The woman was attacked on Friday night when the couple stopped to camp in a forest. The pair told police that she was raped by seven or eight men but was unable to specify the precise number because it was dark.

Six men — said to be poor farmers from nearby villages — appeared in court yesterday charged with the gang rape.

The charges came three months after the fatal gang rape of a woman on a Delhi bus which sparked outrage across the country.