Top police officers and bureaucrats in Meerut showered rose petals from a helicopter to felicitate Kanwar pilgrims on Wednesday. A video tweeted by ANI showed Additional Director General of Police Prashant Kumar showering rose petals during an aerial survey.

Kanwar is an annual pilgrimage of Shiva devotees where as part of a ritual, pilgrims carry water from the Ganga river in containers suspended on the side of a pole. The pilgrims, called Kanwariyas, walk barefoot, often across hundreds of kilometres.

Kumar later said no religious angle should be given to the incident. “Flowers are used to welcome people,” he told ANI. “The administration respects all religions and actively takes part, even in [festivals such as] Gurupurab, Eid, Bakrid, or Jain festivals.”

Kumar was accompanied by Meerut Commissioner Anita Meshram and some other senior officials, ANI reported. Kumar has asked the Baghpat district authorities to supervise arrangements for the three-day Kanwar fair in the town, reported The Indian Express.

All restaurants and shop owners serving non-vegetarian food in Meerut region have been asked to stay shut or serve vegetarian food during the pilgrimage, said Senior Superintendent of Police Rajesh Kumar Pandey. Traffic on a stretch of the National Highway 27 has been diverted for the pilgrims.

Meanwhile, a group of Kanwariyas allegedly vandalised a police vehicle after a scuffle with residents in Bulandshahr on Tuesday. The police have filed a case against 58 people, including 50 unidentified, according to The Indian Express.

The incident took place the same day when another group of Kanwar pilgrims vandalised a car in New Delhi’s Moti Nagar after it brushed past one of them.