The Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) on Monday ordered an inquiry after a group of students from Manipur were allegedly stopped from entering the Taj Mahal by CISF personnel, who demanded that they produce proof of their nationality. The students were later allowed entry following the intervention of local police, after which they lodged a written complaint with ASI officials alleging discrimination.
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According to their complaint, the students — who were from the Central Agricultural University in Imphal — had gone to visit the monument as part of an all-India educational tour.
They reached the gates at around 3.30 pm on Sunday, but were allegedly barred from entry on grounds that they “resembled foreigners” trying to pass off as Indians so they could enter with cheaper tickets.
At the Taj Mahal, tickets issued to foreign tourists (barring those from SAARC and BIMSTEC countries) cost Rs 1,000 each, while an Indian is charged Rs 40 per ticket.
Even after the students produced their ID cards and a letter which stated that they were on a national tour, the CISF personnel did not relent, the complaint further alleged. This led to an argument between the security staff and a professor accompanying the group.
The students went then asked to produce their Aadhaar cards, and only allow those who had them were allowed to enter, said the complaint. Later, the remaining students were also allowed entry after the tourism police intervened.
“The students alleged that CISF personnel misbehaved with them and that they were asked to show their nationality proof. They then called the tourism police, who reached the spot and intervened to allow the students to enter,” said RP Pandey, SHO of the Tourism police station. Speaking to The Indian Express, an ASI official confirmed that an inquiry had been ordered into the matter and that security staff had been asked to provide CCTV footage of the main gates of the Taj to verify the allegations.
ASI Chief Bhuvan Vikram couldn’t be contacted despite repeated attempts.