Selfies in Bengal’s Digha beach town can get you arrested

Moving a step beyond Goa administration that is planning ‘no-selfie zones’ along its coastline, the police in Bengal’s popular beach town of Digha has decided to ban selfies during high tide altogether in an effort to curb deaths of tourists. District police bosses have decided to arrest anyone violating the directive and moving close to the water during high tide to click selfies.

The decision was taken against the backdrop of eight deaths of tourists who were drowned in the past one month allegedly while clicking selfies during high tides.

“Though the police, civic volunteers and members of disaster management teams regularly urge tourists to stay away from the water during high tide, many don’t pay heed. We also have started cordoning off the Digha beach with yellow ropes to stop tourists from going near the sea during high tide,” said Indrajit Basu, additional superintendent of police (rural) of East Midnapore district.

“If we find anyone near or in the water during high tide trying to click pictures, we will arrest him,” added Basu.

An officer of Digha police station said the offender will be arrested under section 290 of the IPC that deals with punishment for public nuisance in cases not otherwise provided for. “He will also be slapped a fine of Rs 200,” said the officer.

“We are compelled to take strict measures. There have been several deaths and we can’t afford to take any chances,” said Akhil Giri, local MLA and vice-chairman of the Digha-Shankarpur Development Authority (DSDA).

A few watch towers will shortly be pressed into service from where vigil will be maintained on the coastline.

On June 14, Chandan Mukherjee, 58, a railway employee who came to Digha with his family on holiday was trying to take a selfie standing on a guard wall during a high tide when a huge wave and a resident of Kanchrapara in North 24 Parganas was washed away at the time he was clicking a selfie standing on the guard wall and there was high tide.

However, there will be no restrictions during low tides, said officers.

The police have also started addressing tourists over microphones to keep safe distance during high tides. Board with warnings have also been put up.

Officers said they already detained and fined about 25 tourists in the past one week for violating the warnings.

The administration also said they will start vigil on the beaches of Mandarmani, another beach resort about 30 km from Digha.

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