Gangtok, May 14 (PTI) A senior Sikkim police officer has warned police personnel of strict action for allowing tourist vehicles to Nathula without paid requisite permit.

The tourist season has picked up momentum and it is observed that a large number of tourists are visiting areas within the Restricted Area Permit/Protected Area Permit areas. Inflow of tourists provides gainful employment to all the stakeholders, Sonam Tenzing Bhutia, the Inspector General of Police (IGP), Checkposts Headquarter, said in an office order on Friday.

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"A lot of unfortunate reports against police personnel involving officers down to constable is coming through unofficial channel that vehicles are being allowed to visit Nathula without the paid requisite permit issued by the Tourism Department and the Army," he said.

The IGP said that it has also been reported that some officers are involved in running such a racket wherein a large fleet of vehicles were being sent to Nathula under their patronage and the money collected in cash from the taxi drivers.

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"This act amounts to corruption and, as such, is liable for departmental action and prosecution under the Prevention of Corruption Act," Bhutia warned.

In addition, the state government was losing out on the revenue which otherwise would have accrued to the exchequer in the event of all Nathula-bound vehicle paying up for obtaining requisite permit from the concerned authorities, he said.

Observing that the reported incident was a disgracing to the image of Sikkim Police, the IGP directed the SP & ASP (Check Posts) to visit Nathula twice a week on rotation to supervise the functioning of the policemen on duty at the international border.

The officers shall interact with tourists and taxi drivers and get their feedback on police checking, the IGP said and asked for submission of a report to him on such checking.

Meanwhile, the Travel Agents Association of Sikkim (TAAS) has expressed ignorance about the occurrence of irregularities carried out by drivers in taking tourists to Nathula without obtaining permit for the purpose from the concerned authorities.

"It is unfortunate if any corruption has taken place due to nexus with police personnel and drivers by taking tourists to Nathula without obtaining permit for their visit," the TAAS President Sonam Norgay Lachungpa told PTI.

He demanded strict action against the culprits (corrupt police personnel and the drivers of tourist vehicles) if such 'corrupt' activities have taken place.

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