The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) and Archaeological Survey of India (ASI) officials have asked the contestants from several countries for a super model crown, who were visiting the Taj Mahal, to remove the scarves bearing Hindu religious symbols and words like 'Jai Shri Ram'.
Right-wing organisations Hindu Jagran Manch (HJM) and Bharatiya Janata Yuva Morcha (BJYM), said it has hurt the sentiments of Hindus and have launched high-decibel protests in Agra.
ASI superintending archaeologist Bhuvan Vikrama said, "I have written to the CISF asking them to explain what transpired there during the visit. Whatever we know so far is through the media only. The models were quite happy with the visit. There was no complaint, but now after some organizations have taken offence at the alleged act, we have sought to know the details."
Brij Bhushan, commandant, CISF, said, "ASI through an order has stated that all sorts of religious symbols are banned from being taken inside a protected monument. Such scarves are among them. Our intention is not to hurt anyone's religious sentiments, but to maintain peace and harmony."
Shivendu Dixit, director of the event management company which has organized the group's visit to the Taj, said, "There was no issue at all. The models were travelling from Mathura and to avoid the heat some of them had bought scarves from there. Some might have religious faith also. Actually, it was the guide who first told the models to remove the scarves and it was reiterated by security officials."
Sunil Sharma, city coordinator (enrollment cell), BJYM, said, "Our intention is not to stoke religious sentiments, but we will enter the Taj wearing saffron attire and scarves on Saturday. We will see how they stop us. This is our government. Officials cannot hurt people's sentiments."
Avinash Rana, general secretary, HJM (Agra), said, "In past also such incidents had happened, but now we will not tolerate this. It is shameful that ASI and CISF officials behaved in this irresponsible manner. Why don't they stop people wearing skull caps from entering?"