More Than 50 Arrested After Brutal Attack On Swiss Couple In Agra

| October 29 , 2017 , 16:58 IST

In the wake of the brutal attack on a tourist couple from Switzerland while they were visiting Agra, the Uttar Pradesh government has arrested more than 50 'lapkas' or touts who targeted foreign visitors at the famous Taj Mahal and Fatehpur Sikri sites in Agra. On charges of harassment and public peace, the anti-social elements around the historical monuments have been sent to jail.

On October 26, the same day that UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath made his maiden visit to Agra, a couple from Switzerland were attacked by a group of 5 youths, resulting in the man suffering a fractured skull, blood clot in his brain and hearing impairment while his companion was left with a broken arm. The incident highlighted the crime that took place with visiting foreigners, resulting in a crackdown by the security forces.

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However, the crackdown and arrests have been received with mixed reactions, as locals and tourism industry professionals felt that the example of one incident was being used to mar the reputation of the tourism industry in Agra as a whole.

"Tourism is the mainstay of Agra's economy, supporting a network of hundreds of big and small hotels, emporia, resorts and travel networks. After the opening of the Yamuna Expressway and the Lucknow-Agra Expressway, there has been a spurt in footfall," says the President of the Agra Hotels and Restaurants Association, Surendra Sharma.

"True, 'lapkas' bring a bad name to the city. But generalizing the negative features dents the fair and positive image of Agra as a whole and the tourism industry in particular," said Raj Kumar, owner of Hotel Alleviate.

"Agra's hotel business is tourist friendly and provides reasonable hospitality which has been appreciated by customers from across the globe," he added.

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Others admitted that the illegal guides and canvassers have created a negative atmosphere for tourists.

"From the Agra Cantt railway station to emporiums, to monuments, the so-called illegal guides or agents and canvassers, who locally are called 'lapkas', have created a nightmarish ambience for the tourists," said Shravan Kumar Singh of the Braj Mandal Heritage Conservation Society.

"In the process, the entire tourism industry gets a bad name. Tourists do not want to return to Agra. At Fatehpur Sikri you cannot walk alone without being swarmed by these 'lapkas'," he said.