A trip to Delhi took a harrowing turn for a Belgian woman, who was allegedly harassed and duped by men posing as police officers, an autorickshaw driver, a travel agent and hotel authorities — all in a span of 24 hours.
The woman, Esther Deleu, arrived in the capital on December 6 last year and took an auto to her hotel, said police. When she reached Minto Road, the driver allegedly took her to a parking lot where two men, claiming to be police officers, were waiting. “They told me there were demonstrations taking place near my hotel and the entire street was cordoned off. They said I needed permission from police to get into the hotel,” Deleu’s complaint read.
The woman said she was handed a piece of paper with the address of a ‘police centre’ on it. She was taken there, and six men in police uniforms “showed her videos of protests on their mobile phones”, she alleged.
“They told me to leave Delhi. They also spotted my gold jewellery and told me that I should take it off as it will cut my fingers,” the complaint read. When she told them about her reservation at the hotel, they made a call and told her it had been cancelled.
The woman, police said, was then taken to a travel agency in another autorickshaw, where she met two men who offered her cake and water. They told her about other, more expensive hotels. As per the complaint, after five hours, the woman accepted a hotel offer for 40 dollars.
She alleged that she was then taken on a “long trek” to the hotel, and was given a room with no windows or internet connectivity. “I locked myself inside the room as people knocked on the door. I was paralysed. My SIM activated and I contacted my friend in Rishikesh, who called the hotel where I was supposed to stay and discovered that my booking was never cancelled. Several people started knocking at my door and I barricaded myself. Finally, the manager of the hotel came to get me,” the complaint read.
Deleu then took the first flight back to Belgium and, almost two months later, mustered the courage to report the matter to the Belgian authorities, who informed the Ministry of External Affairs (Europe west) division and the Delhi Police Commissioner. Police have now registered a case under Section 4-(a) of the Delhi Prevention of Touting and Malpractices against Tourists Act at Connaught Place. “A team from special staff has been formed to look into the matter,” DCP (New Delhi) Madhur Verma said.
The complaint forwarded by the Belgian authorities reads: “Such incidents bring disrepute to Indians and discourage tourists to visit India.”