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December 6, 2009

Gun-toting personnel inside Taj dampens tourist spirit

     Agra: The sight of gun toting uniformed personnel roaming within and around the Taj Mahal in Agra is inadvertently taking a toll on tourism, putting tourists to nconvenience as well. At present, there are 181 personnel designated on security assignments inside the Taj Mahal complex. What was initiated as an exercise to ensure the safety of the historic monument of love, is proving to be an inconvenience for visiting tourists. "They are doing the job quite well. But you get to see gun toting personnel in some places while roaming around the complex and you start feeling scared. I'm reminded of 26/11 of Mumbai. It feels as if something is going to happen," said Rashmi, a tourist. Those associated with the tourism sector feel the sight of armed personnel puts off tourists and could have an adverse impact on the industry. Agra Travel Association President, Rajeev Tiwari noted : "They should ensure proper security, but if there is a need for deploying commandos inside the Taj Mahal, they should be deployed in plainclothes, so that the people do not get scared." The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) contends that the deployment has been done keeping in mind the current security scenario, and added that it is not permanent. "A few days ago, there were reports of the Taj being under threat. The matter had caused some inconvenience. It was reported in the media as well. So, keeping all those things in mind, the security measures were tightened. But this deployment is not permanent," observed Atik R Siddiqui, ASI Superintendent.
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