Miss Universe Olivia Frances Culpo, on her maiden visit to India, and others accompanying her who did a shoot for a footwear brand at the Taj Mahal have apparently landed themselves in trouble. A case has been registered against them on an Archaeological Survey of India complaint.
Munazzar Ali, the Taj Mahal’s caretaker said, “We have this evening officially lodged a complaint against the group with Miss Universe along with photos as proof. The sandals from a bag she carried were taken and placed on the Diana Seat for shooting pictures which is not permitted by the ASI. It also amounts to disrespect and insult.”
A marble bench at the central pond is named after Princess Diana who visited the Taj in 1992.
A police officer of the Tourism Thana said, “A case has been registered under the Ancient Monuments and Sites Act against Miss Universe, Sanjana Jon and others of the group.”
The police were under pressure to ignore the violation but media pressure and objections by the tourism industry forced the Archaeological Survey of India to officially complain to the police and get a case registered.
The 21-year-old Miss Universe with her group visited the World Heritage monument on Sunday.
“It was not immediately clear whether her posing for photographs with a new pair of sandals was a calculated plan for commercial gain, or was the decision taken at the spur of the moment. The police, the CISF and the ASI indulged in blame game and avoided taking a decision one way or the other,” said a tourist guide.
Mr. Ali added, “I was not present that day.”
Ms. Culpo was escorted by U.P. Police personnel. The CISF, supposed to look after security and frisking at the entrance gates, “were too impressed and allowed her to carry her bag inside”.
“These CISF fellows often over-react when people come even with Ram-naam dupattas or wear scarf or the tri-colour. So many people have had tiffs with them,” recalled Abhinav Jain, a handicrafts exporter at the eastern gate of the Taj.
He added, “It’s the fault of the CISF. How did they permit Miss Universe to use the Taj Mahal backdrop to promote a product? This is not permitted.”
Ms. Culpo was in India to promote some charity and social concern issues. “But how this sandal business suddenly came up needs investigation. Looks like Sanjana Jon persuaded her to pose for the photos,” said photographer Vishal.
Police attributed the delay in registering the case to “investigations being made and footage study”.
A Supreme Court directive prohibits use of the Taj Mahal for commercial purposes. Nobody is permitted to hold demonstrations or enter with banners within 500 metres of the monument.