Four Home Stay agents arrested for arm-twisting tourists

Kodagu SP warns of strict action if home stay middlemen force guests to opt for particular accommodation

Madikeri: Added to the menace of mushrooming home stays (mostly illegal and unauthorised) in Kodagu and the intense competition to attract more and more guests, some home stay middlemen or agents are blackmailing and threatening the guests forcing them to take accommodation in particular home stays.

Several home stays have appointed middlemen and they target tourists who enter the district from various points. These middlemen, operating mostly in the nights, stop each and every private vehicle and ask the guests if they need accommodation. They knock the doors and window shields of the vehicle in their hunt for prospective customers.

These middlemen work on the basis of commission that is handed over by the home stays.

However, these bargaining tactics sometimes lead to arguments between the tourists and the middlemen. As there is stiff competition among the middlemen too, they indulge in one-upmanship to attract tourists to their home stays.

One such incident was reported on May 10 at 2 am when a tourist vehicle was stopped near the entrance of Madikeri town. The vehicle was stopped by a middleman and the tourists were taken to Fort View Hotel. However, as the tourists entered the hotel, one more middleman entered the scene and picked up a fight with the hotel staff.

The middleman, identified as Ashraf, scaled the walls of the hotel, picked up a fight with Juber, the manager of Fort View Hotel and accused him of poaching his guests who were originally headed to his home stay. In a complaint with the Madikeri Police, Juber has stated that Ashraf assaulted and threatened to kill him.

Following the incident, the Police had summoned other middlemen — K. Rajesh, Rizwan, M.H. Jainuddeen and Mustafa — to the Police Station and issued a strict warning not to harass tourists. Some tourists had complained to the Police that the middlemen behaved rudely with them in the middle of the night and they were threatened of dire consequences if they don’t take up accommodation in particular home stays. But despite the Police warning, K. Rajesh, Rizwan, M.H. Jainuddeen and Mustafa were found loitering at the entry points to the city in the middle of the night and threatening the tourists to drive to particular home stays. They have been arrested and legal action has been initiated on them.

In a press statement, Kodagu SP Rajendra Prasad said that middlemen will be prevented from arm-twisting the tourists in the name of attracting them to home stays. “Let the tourists stay where they want. If such cases recur, the Police will take strict action against he accused,” the SP added. He has asked the tourists to call Madikeri Police Stations and Control Rooms on the following numbers: 94808-04945 or 08272-229333 or 229330 in case home stay middlemen force them to opt for particular home stays.

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