Policeman giving foot massage to pilgrim, relaxation of no-helmet rule: How Kanwariyas get special treatment in Yogi Adityanath's UP

  • Shamli SP Ajay Kumar Pandey gave a foot massage to a Kanwariya and its video went viral on the social media inviting mixed responses

  • Last year the Additional Director General Meerut Range Prashant Kumar showered rose petals through chopper on the Kanwariyas

  • The district administration of Basti has ordered for the closure of toll booths on the National Highway 28 for 72 hours in view of the Kanwar Yatra

The undiluted love and respect of the Uttar Pradesh government and the state administration for the saffron colour is known to everyone. But the respect has turned into blind devotion in one instance, as one of the top cops from the state was seen giving a foot massage to a kanwariya.

Kanwariyas are pilgrims who offer the holy water from river Ganga to Lord Shiva by walking several miles in the Shraavana month of the Hindu calendar. Kanwariyas have often been in the news for creating ruckus on the roads and causing traffic disruption on highways. It is to be noted that the government of Uttar Pradesh led by Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has a very soft approach towards these foot pilgrims.

The massage route to salvation?

A couple of days ago, Shamli Superintendent of Police (SP) Ajay Kumar Pandey gave a foot massage to a Kanwariya and its video went viral on social media inviting mixed responses. When asked about this act and the obligations for men in uniform under the service rules, Pandey said, “I have not committed any crime and was just trying to help an exhausted pilgrim who has walked several kilometers to offer the holy water.”

“I had gone there for the inauguration of a camp meant for the kanwariyas, where I saw the boy who was tired. This should not be seen from a narrow mindset as the canvas of policing in the present time is very large,” Kumar said in his defence.

 Policeman giving foot massage to pilgrim, relaxation of no-helmet rule: How Kanwariyas get special treatment in Yogi Adityanaths UP

File photo of the Kanwariya pilgrims. PTI

However, former Uttar Pradesh DGP Vikram Singh, reacting to the incident, said, “The Shamli police chief's action is very objectionable and as per the service rules, a departmental action can be taken against him. The rules bar a police officer from doing such things.”

“If a person has so much of ‘seva bhav’ (willingness to serve people), then the person should go on leave and do this in civil dress, but not in police uniform. I want to ask this man if he has ever donated blood or even listened to the problems of his subordinates. A police officer, no matter on what post, is a soldier and should act like a warrior,” the former DGP said.

The Uttar Pradesh Director General of Police (DGP) OP Singh at the commencement of Shraavana had briefed the media about the arrangements made for the pilgrims and assured help to the kanwariyas from the police.

However, the special treatment is just not limited to this particular incident involving Pandey; last year, the Additional Director General, Meerut Range, Prashant Kumar showered rose petals from a chopper on the kanwariyas. This year as well, police officials showered rose petals on kanwariyas.

Breach of ‘no helmet, no fuel’ rule

Meanwhile, in Gautam Buddh Nagar, the kanwariyas who are going to join the pilgrimage on motorcycles have been exempted from the "no helmet, no fuel" policy of the Uttar Pradesh government which came into force on 1 June.

The announcement of the special relaxation to kanwariyas came from the District Magistrate BN Singh just a day after the district administration slapped a fine of Rs 10,000 on a filling station in Greater Noida for violating the policy by giving petrol to motorcyclists without helmets.

"All filling stations in the district have been conveyed to provide fuel to kanwariyas even if they are without a helmet," District Supplies Officer RN Singh said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the district administration of Basti has ordered for the closure of toll booths on the National Highway 28 for 72 hours in view of the kanwar yatra.

The National Highway 28, which passes through the Basti district, has two toll booths in the district that see over 12,000 vehicles pass through, resulting in an average revenue of Rs 50 lakh. The closure of the toll booths would result in an approximate loss of over Rs 2 crores, informed toll manager Indrabhushan Tiwari.

SR Darapuri, a former IG-rank IPS officer of Uttar Pradesh cadre, said that the government should avoid such controversies and instead work on improving the condition of law and order in the state. "This is very much appeasement of the Hindu community, at a time when the condition of law and order in the state has gone for a toss."

The author is a Lucknow-based freelance writer and a member of 101Reporters.com

Updated Date: Jul 28, 2019 23:31:37 IST