Abducted tourist had 20-yr-long love affair with tribal Odisha
Debabrata Mohapatra, TNN | Mar 18, 2012
BHUBANESWAR: Bosusco Paolo, one of the abducted Italian tourists, had been a pathfinder for scores of tourists, both domestic and foreign, in dense jungles and hilly terrains of tribal districts in Odisha. But little had Paolo imagined that his nearly 20-year-long bond with tribal Odisha will land him in trouble. He and another Italian Claucio Colancero were kidnapped by Maoists in a forest in Kandhamal district.
Fifty three-year-old Paolo from Turin in North Italy had been staying in Puri since the past 23 years on a tourist visa with multiple-entry (into India) facility. Going by multiple-entry visa rules, one can stay for 180 days at a stretch in India. After the time period one has to exit the country for some time and then return for a valid stay.
Paolo speaks Odia, though not fluently, and used to take tourists to forest and hilly areas of the state for expedition, police sources said. “Like other days, he set out on an adventure on March 12. We were stunned to know that he, along with his friend, was kidnapped,” said Saroj Rath, a Puri-based hotelier and acquaintance of Paolo. The second kidnapped Italian Colancero had arrived in Puri on March 9.
Puri tourist officer Bijay Jena said Paolo had opened a small office ‘Orissa Trekking and Adventure’ on Chakratirtha Road a few years ago. Local tour operators alleged Paolo had not obtained any permission from tourism department either to operate the office or take tourists on tribal tours in Maoist-hit areas. Jena admitted Paolo had no permission for organizing treks but said only travel agencies are required to take permission from the department. “Paolo’s was not a travel agency,” Jena said.
Yugabrat Kar, vice-president of Odisha tour association, took a dig at local tourism officials for showing leniency towards people engaged in the business of tourism without requisite permission from the government.
“How could a foreigner do business here by procuring a tourist visa? He needed to have a business visa. What was police doing all these days,” asked another tour operator.
Sources said Paolo has a PAN card in his name as he was earning money in India. “We had no idea he was doing business here. But he has a valid passport and visa. We have been maintaining his multiple arrival and departure reports,” a senior police officer said.
Meanwhile, foreign tourists in Puri are in a state of panic after the abduction. “This is indeed a very disturbing news for us. The government must come to the rescue of the tourists and enhance security in tribal areas where foreigners like us love to visit,” said an American tourist, Johnty Paul.