Lucknow, Aug 10: The chopper used by the Meerut range of Uttar Pradesh Police to shower rose petals on Kanwar pilgrims was procured by the state government at a cost of Rs 14.31 lakhs.
A copy of the State Home Department order issued on August 5 reveals that the UP government procured the helicopter from Air Charter Services Pvt Ltd from August 7 to August 9 for "keeping an alert vision and effective surveillance".
This was the first instance when the state had procured helicopters to prevent any untoward incident during the Kanwar yatra -- a 130-km on-foot pilgrimage which begins from Haridwar in Uttarakhand and concludes in Ghaziabad, on the western border of UP.
Prior to the Home Department order dated August 5, an order was issued on July 27 which sought a chopper from Pawan Hans at a price of Rs 21.64 lakh for maintaining surveillance during the yatra. The order was scrapped on August 4 after Air Charter Services Pvt Ltd made a cheaper bid, reports said.
The UP Police has drawn flak after a video showed Additional Director General (Meerut Zone) Prashant Kumar and other senior police officers showering petals on the kanwarias. The clip went viral amid reports which highlighted the hooliganism spread by a section of miscreants among the pilgrims.
Reacting to the criticism, UP Additional Director General (Law and Order) Anand Kumar said that showering of petals was not an official order, but a "symbolic gesture" to welcome the pilgrims.