Chinese tourist breaches security at Taj Mahal, takes drone inside prohibited area
A Chinese tourist breached the security at the Taj Mahal on Wednesday and took his drone inside before the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) personnel manning the internal security of heritage monument stopped him from flying it when he reached the Royal Gate of the Taj.
Although tourist pleaded innocence, saying he was not aware of the restriction on flying drones in the prohibited area near the Taj Mahal, he was handed over to the tourism police.
“The tourist was from China and said that he was not able to read instructions written in Hindi and English. That was why he took a drone inside Taj Mahal. He was handed over to tourism police but was allowed to view the monument as there was nothing suspicious about him,” said Braj Bhushan, CISF commandant at Taj Mahal.
There is high security at the gates of the Taj Mahal and tourists are subjected to extensive frisking by the CISF. No one seemed to have spotted the drone during the security check.
“The lapse occurred because the packed drone looked like a camera and was missed. But the tourist was not allowed to fly it and was stopped once he took it out after reaching the Royal Gate,” said the CISF Commandant.
“The tourist was identified as Gui Guanxiong from Beijing, aged about 26 years. He expressed ignorance about the restriction on flying drones in no flying zone near the Taj and was interrogated before being allowed to go. The visitor gave a written apology before leaving,” said DK Dwiwedi, the officer in charge of tourism police station.
In February 2017, the district administration of Agra had prohibited flying drones in the sensitive area around Taj Mahal. The onus was placed on owners of hotels near Taj and they were asked to tell tourists, particularly foreigners, not to fly drones in the prohibited area.
Despite the order, there have been several violations and on most occasions, foreigners have been were the offenders. In August, an Israeli tourist staying at a hotel south of the monument flew a drone. The police seized the drone and allowed the tourist to go after a written apology. But a case was registered against the owner and staff of the hotel because they violated the District Magistrate’s orders.
A South Korean professor, Chun Hong Chul, 50, was held for flying a drone over the Taj Mahal on February 22, 2017. He was allowed to leave after submitting an undertaking to cooperate in the matter.
Rajeev Saxena, secretary, Tourism Guild of Agra, said there should be better publicity of dos and donts for tourists. He suggested that restriction on drones should be mentioned in visa and a notice should be placed at Taj in different languages.
“If we can communicate that Taj Mahal remains closed on Friday, then prohibition on flying drones can also be publicized,” he said.