Uttar Pradesh government has spent over Rs 14 Lakh for hiring the chopper from which senior police officers of the state were seen showering
rose petals on kanwar pilgrims in Meerut and adjoining districts.
ET has a copy of an order issued by the state home department on August 4 that approved the hiring of a chopper for “keeping an alert vision and effective surveillance” in Meerut and adjoining districts from August 7 to August 9. The chopper has been hired from Air Charter Services Pvt Ltd at Rs 14.31 lakh, the order says.
Over the last two days, Additional Director General (Meerut Zone) Prashant Kumar and other senior police officers posted pictures and videos of them showering petals on kanwariyas from the chopper. The order on the exercise issued by the home department however did not specify such a mandate.
An earlier order issued on July 27 by the state home department had in fact envisaged a five-day exercise for chopper surveillance in Meerut range where the kanwar yatra is undertaken in a big way. Rs 21.64 lakh was then approved for the same to hire a chopper from Pawan Hans Ltd from August 4-9.
“Showering petals on anybody is a symbol of welcome and it has been part of Indian tradition and customs. It is a sign that government and administration is welcoming the kanwar yatris – it is a symbolic gesture. It does not mean police are succumbing to religious propensities of the person walking on the road,” UP Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar told ET.
He said the police wanted to send out a message that they were acting as a facilitator, and not as a regulator of the kanwar yatra “Showering petals is not a violation of conduct rules. There is no immorality and we do similar acts for all religions,” Kumar said.
That order was scrapped in favour of the August 4 order after Air Charter Services Ltd submitted a quotation with a lower amount. Incidentally, such air surveillance on the kanwar yatra is being done for the first time. it came after an order from Chif Minister Yogi Adityanath during a detailed review meeting on July 18.
Nearly four crore people every year undertake the 130-km kanwar yatra from Haridwar in Uttarakhand to Ghaziabad and the border of Delhi.