A group of seventy three men and women are now part of the Nagaland Tourist Police, a novel initiative of the state’s police department.
Launched by CM Neiphiu Rio on Monday, just a few days ahead of the Hornbill Festival, the state’s flagship tourism festival, the Tourist Police comes at a time when hundreds of tourists, both domestic and foreign, will shortly pour into Nagaland.
According to the official Tourist Police handbook, which will be disturbed among visitors, its primary role is to “provide facilitation, guidance, safety and security to foreign and domestic tourists.”
“A few months back, in a meeting with the CMO, we were discussing the festival and how last year many tourists did not get accommodation in some hotels despite booking ahead,” says Sonia Singh, Inspector General of Police (Range), Nagaland. “The seeds of the Tourist Police initiative were sown then, and it is these sort of problems the unit will try to solve.”
Organised by the state’s Tourism and Art & Culture departments, the Hornbill Festival, which debuted in 2003, is ostensibly a display of the various cultural practices of the Naga tribes through music, dance, traditional games and food. While the festival takes place at the Kisama village, 12 km from Kohima, tourists dot the entire area around Kohima for the ten days the festival is on. According to Nagaland Tourism Department records,17,044 (domestic) and 1360 (foreign) tourists visited in 2015.
“The success and failure of a tourism destination depends on being able to provide a safe and secure environment for visitors. To ensure them protection, Tourist Police unit has been created,” said T John Longkumer, DGP Nagaland, during the inauguration, adding that the Tourist Police will also help in the implementation of provisions that governs tourism-related activities in the state.
The policemen will also act as tourist guides: tourists will be assisted about local commute options at railway station and airports, which hotels and home stays to opt for, as well as be given handy information about immigration and foreign exchange. “That is not all, the unit has also been trained to disseminate information about local art and culture,” says Singh.
The Tourist Police will be deployed in tourist spots such as Dzoukou Valley, Khonoma Village, Japtu Peak etc. The deployment area has been divided into two zones and 12 sectors, where police personnel are in-charge of individual hotels in specific areas. “We have also launched an SOS app and inaugurated an integrated control room for the same incase any untoward incident happens, especially concerning women,” says Singh.
The Tourist Police will be stationed at critical points round-the-clock.