While the Narendra Modi government has banned visitors from clicking selfies during the Independence Day week from August 12 to 18 as a security measure, the BJP's ally in Andhra Pradesh has asked all pilgrims coming to the River Krishna Pushkar in Andhra Pradesh to click selfies.
Chief minister Chandrababu Naidu did a Salman Khan's "Chal beta selfie le le re".
Naidu tweeted: "As you take part in #KrishnaPushkaralu, tweet a selfie and use #Krishnamma to share it with us. Stay safe and celebrate."
India's security establishment will take a dim view of Naidu's tweet given intel reports that terrorists can launch attacks in the guise of tourists during Independence Day week.
And the Krishna Pushkar is a security nightmare given the sea of humanity that will converge on the bathing ghats in five districts through which the River Krishna flows in Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
Roughly 40 lakh pilgrims will take a holy dip everyday in the two Telugu-speaking states during the 12-day event. The densest crowd is expected to be at Vijayawada, where an estimated 15 lakh pilgrims will converge daily. That is where even Naidu took a dip today with his family.
"It is not okay to take selfies at a crowded event like the Pushkar," says WG Prasanna Kumar, Disaster management expert. "In fact, it is not allowed in moving crowds."
The suggestion to go selfie-crazy comes even after the Godavari pushkar in July last year saw 27 pilgrims killed in a stampede after the gates to the main Pushkar ghat were closed for Naidu and his family to take the holy dip and perform prayers.
When the gates were opened, everyone rushed to get in to the river and the police's efforts to control the situation did not help.
Even if New Delhi had not issued the advisory, Naidu's team should have told him that areas near water bodies are usually considered selfie-unfriendly.
In February this year, Mumbai declared 16 no-selfie zones after several accidental deaths due to `selfie fever'. While an 18-year-old woman fell and drowned in the sea while clicking a selfie at Mumbai's Bandstand Fort, another 18-year-old, a student lost his balance while taking a selfie at a dam in Nashik. He fell into the water and drowned.
Disaster management experts are already unhappy with the Andhra government organising several cultural programmes and seminars and converting the Pushkar into a Vijayawada marketing event.
They point out that the effort should be to ensure the pilgrims exit the towns in the shortest possible time, to avoid the towns turning into traffic nighmares.
Last Updated 31, Mar 2018, 6:46 PM