UP Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath often shares photographs from his chopper rides. Whether it's to survey the flood situation after heavy rains lashed the state or to check the progress of ongoing development projects, Mr Adityanath is always on the move.
Last week, when he conducted an aerial survey of the kanwar yatra route, the internet wondered who he was waving at from his plane.
A few days later, senior police officers perhaps inspired by the UP Chief Minister, embarked on their own aerial review of the kanwar yatra. The officers surveyed security and traffic measures for the annual pilgrimage, during which thousands of kanwar pilgrims walk from their states to Uttarakhand, to fetch holy Ganga water.
Meerut Additional Director General of Police Prashant Kumar, who carried with him a bag full of flower petals, indulged kanwariyas, the devotees of Lord Shiva, with a rosy shower from above. He was accompanied by Commissioner Chandra Prakash Tripathi. A fellow senior officer made video of the exercise and it was duly posted on Twitter. It went viral within hours.
The internet, however, wasn't amused. Called it a waste of taxpayers' money, one Twitter user said, "Frustrating to watch this nonsense."
"Who is paying for this joy-ride," wondered another Twitter user commenting on the video.
Prashant Kumar, who had tweeted the video, removed it after a backlash.
"No religious angle should be given to this. Flowers are used to welcome people. Administration respects all religions and actively takes part, even in Gurupurab, Eid, Bakrid or Jain festivals," Prashant Kumar said today.
In Ghaziabad, the kanwariyas received a floral welcome from Superintendent of Police Akash Tomar. Senior police officers were also seen tending to the sore feet of the pilgrims.
The special treatment comes in the backdrop of incidents of hooliganism and vandalism, courtesy kanwariyas.
On Tuesday, the saffron T-shirt and shorts-wearing kanwariyas battered a car in Delhi's Moti Nagar. The car had reportedly brushed past them. While the driver and her friend ran for safety, their car fell prey to the fury of the rowdy gang.
Over the last few days, Delhi and its adjoining areas have witnessed huge traffic disruptions by the kanwariyas, who walk in large groups or travel in trucks, ignoring all traffic rules.
Videos of kanwariyas consuming liquor are also in circulation.
In one of the videos, a mob of kanwar pilgrims is seen chasing the police and smashing their van in Uttar Pradesh's Bulandshahr. The policemen, outnumbered, are seen reversing the vehicle and making a run for it.
Every year, their actions and unchecked hooliganism in the name of the annual pilgrimage lead to widespread anger and disgust.