The Allahabad district administration has ordered stern action against a private helicopter carrying a French cameraman, who was shooting an aerial film on the Kumbh Mela.
Kumbh Mela district magistrate Mani Prasad Misra has lodged a first information report with the Sangam police station and sought action under various provisions of the Indian Penal Code as well as the Official Secrets Act, say sources.
Misra said, “The helicopter belonging to Himalayan Helicopter Services was hired by a French company whose cameraman was unauthorisedly shooting a film on the Kumbh Mela."
“Preliminary inquiries have revealed that the helicopter only had permission to fly from Varanasi to Allahabad. Yet it was flown over the Kumbh Mela area and that too on ‘Mauni Amavasya’ when as many as 3 crore people visited the congregation. The low flight by the helicopter sent the boats at ‘Sangam’ shivering and caused panic among the pilgrims on the banks,” he added.
“On a day when even motorboats are banned anywhere around the Sangam area, a low-flying helicopter could have triggered a stampede. Hence, this cannot be taken lightly.”Allahabad Divisional Commissioner Devesh Chaturvedi said, “We had to approach the nearby Indian Air Force base at Bamrauli to intervene and order the grounding of the chopper, following which we seized it. The camera being used in the shooting has been also seized.”
A probe has also been ordered by the civil aviation authorities.
Strangely, even though the helicopter was noticed early in the day, authorities thought it was a part of the official air surveillance ordered in the wake of Afzal Guru’s hanging. The execution had prompted the state government to beef up security in and around the Kumbh Mela area. It was only after the aircraft started taking very low flights above Sangam that the mela officials got suspicious and sought help of the IAF.