In an attempt to minimise the chaos at Durga Pooja pandals this year, cops in Kolkata are planning to ban selfies. While some places like Lalbazar are planning to prohibit selfies entirely, in other neighbourhoods, policemen are asking pandal organisers to create selfie zones where devotees can take photos without hindering the celebration for others.

In a report in the Times of India, a Lalbazar officer was quoted as saying that selfies had become a major security hurdle last year. “Not only did it block the entry and exit, it was also a security dilemma. Organisers have been asked to put up boards warning against such activity. Our men present near the pandal will be instructed to appeal to revellers not to block movement by trying to click selfies,” he said.

The decision is also being supported by several pandal owners to protect their carefully constructed pandals from damage. “Selfie seekers became a major menace last time and police is right in asking them to stop taking selfies as it disrupts the movement of people within the puja complex,” said an organiser from North Kolkata in an interview with the Gulf News. The report also quoted a social scientist as saying that social media platforms were altering behavioural patterns.

“Earlier, visiting a pandal was important. Now tagging it and having its pictures broadcasted over social media is more important. People have forgotten to live in the present,” he lamented.

The police, meanwhile, is also exploring the option of fining overzealous selfie takers. To discourage selfie culture, they plan to release a few teasers in the coming days.