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HindustanTimes Sat,01 Nov 2014

Miss Universe caught on the wrong foot at Taj Mahal

Hemendra Chaturvedi , Hindustan Times  Agra, October 07, 2013
First Published: 19:53 IST(7/10/2013) | Last Updated: 11:58 IST(8/10/2013)

Miss Universe Olivia Culpo may have been caught on the wrong foot at the altar of love.

The Archeological Survey of India on Monday threatened to lodge a police complaint against the 2012 Miss Universe after a visit to the Taj Mahal – the Mughal monument to love – turned out to be thinly disguised photo-event for footwear.

US-born Olivia Culpo is on a ten-day India tour as part of her commitments as the holder of the prestigious title.

However, her shoes raised as much eyebrows as her visit on Sunday as the American beauty tried one pair after another, posing with footwear next to her on a marble platform, in a bag and on her feet.

The covert ‘promotion’ carried out under the nose of tourism police and Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) officials in violation of Supreme Court guidelines generated much heat later, with the Archeological Survey of India threatening to file an FIR against the agency behind the visit.

“We are gathering information from the tourism police about those who were managing the visit. After we get the names, an FIR would be lodged against the agency involved in violating norms at the Taj,” said superintending archaeologist for ASI’s Agra circle NK Pathak on Monday.

Culpo visited the world heritage monument for about an hour on Sunday evening. She enquired about the white-marbled beauty and showed interest in its architecture like any other tourist. The visit seemed to be going well till Culpo reached the marble platform, popularly known as the Diana Seat, near the Central Tank.

Here, her team produced a bag full of shoes and she started trying out various pairs as eager photographers clicked on. Her shoes were also placed on the bench and photographed repeatedly with the Taj in the background, with no objection from the officials and cops on duty.

According to Supreme Court directives, any branding or publicity on the Taj premises is prohibited. Questions are also being raised on how a bag full of sandals was taken inside, as there are strict restrictions on items inside the Taj premises.

“We have taken note of the incident and are appraising the superintending archaeologist in writing. Indeed, there are guidelines prohibiting branding and publicity on the Taj premises but facts related to the incident are yet to be verified,” said Munazzar Ali, conservation archaeologist (CA) for the ASI office at the Taj.

Sources said explanations may also be sought from tourism police and CISF staff on duty at the time of the visit. “Steps would be taken in compliance of guidelines issued by the Supreme Court,” said Munazzar Ali.

However, sources at tourism police station claimed the cops were merely providing security to the visitor. They were not in a position and did not have the status to remind her about the guidelines applicable at Taj, one of them said.


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