‘We will adhere to High Court orders,’ says Deputy Commissioner

Are you going to the Kumbh Mela in Allahabad to take a snap at the bathing ghat? You are in for disappointment, for, the mela administration has prohibited all forms of photography and videography on the main bathing days.

In 2001 two Indian news magazines published pictures of a Mexican woman who had stripped nude to bathe at the Sangam during the Maha Kumbh Mela.

This led to the Allahabad High Court banning photography of nude sadhus and women bathing at the event. It also restricted photography within 200 metres of the Sangam.

Brijesh Jaiswal, the photographer who took one of those full frontal pictures, recounts his disappointment over the “harsh move.”

“Banning photography completely is not the answer. These days, cameras are anyway capable of taking clear pictures even from far away. Instead, guidelines must be issued to refrain from vulgarity. I would not have clicked the photo had any guideline prohibited me from doing so,” he says.

Like him, this year, hundreds of Indian and foreign journalists who will travel to the Sangam will be disappointed yet again.

Divisional Commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi told journalists: “We will adhere to the orders of the High Court. The international media will also be informed about the guidelines. We need to obey rules as in the past the saints have protested against indecent photography. There will be no repeat of the 2001 incident.”

Journalists would also be prohibited from using boats for coverage, he said.

The mega event will begin on Monday even as doubts are being raised over the administration’s preparedness for the first shahi snan, Makar Sankranti, which is the second largest bathing day before the Mauni Amavasya (February 10).

The Union government had allotted 25,800 tonnes of grains (16,200 tonnes of wheat and 9,600 tonnes of rice) at the Below Poverty Line rates for pilgrims.

To ensure that the subsidised grains were not misused, Mr. Chaturvedi said a daily record of the stock would be maintained.

The Commissioner said 500 sewage treatment plants had been operationalised in the Ganga by the Pollution Control Board. Ten anti-sabotage teams had been sanctioned by the Centre to supplement the existing security measures.