Kashmir Indepth

Wedding photographers fear end to their business after Jammu IAF drone attack


JAMMU: In the aftermath of the recent bombing on IAF station here, dozens of wedding photographers using drones are worried about the future of their business for which they have invested a handsome amount owing to a trend which was picking up among the couples planning their weddings and making the event memorable.

Amid heightened security across Jammu and Kashmir after armed drones were used to drop two bombs on IAF Jammu station in the early hours of Sunday, authorities in the border district of Rajouri on Wednesday ordered a ban on the storage, sale or possession and use and transport of the flying machines.

An order issued by District Magistrate, Rajouri, Rajesh Kumar Shavan also directed those having drones or like objects in their possession to deposit the same with the local police station.

“We received a call from the police administration asking to submit the complete list of our members who are operating drones to cover wedding functions,” General Secretary of Photographers’ Union, Jammu, Pradeep Kumar said.

He said they have provided the list to the officer concerned and assured full cooperation of their Union to the administration.

He said the camera-fitted drones have become an essential part of the wedding planners ever since the government allowed their commercial use in December 2018.

The trend of using drones to take memorable aerial wedding shots was picking up with each passing day but the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic in March last year played a spoilsport and marred the wedding seasons, Kumar said.

He said they have suffered huge losses due to the pandemic which forced lockdowns and also restricted the number of guests at the weddings to a limited number ranging between 25 and 100. Many weddings were also cancelled.

Kumar said though they are worried about their business, they are also concerned over the misuse of drones by Pakistan-based terrorists.

“We are worried about our business but we cannot compromise on national security. The attack on the IAF station posed a major challenge to the security of the country and we are ready to make any sacrifice even if it means a complete ban on the use of drones in weddings,” he said.

He said 39 members of the union have invested lakhs of rupees in procuring high-definition cameras along with drones.

Supporting Kumar, president of the Photographers’ Union Kapil Kapoor said “If our country is safe, we are safe and can do our business.”

However, he said they are hopeful that the government would take a decision which would be beneficial for both, the national security as well as the photographers who have suffered huge losses over the past couple of years.

“We mostly shoot the wedding ceremonies through drones at banquet halls. We will follow the decision of the government religiously,” Kapoor said.

In December 2018, the Civil Aviation Ministry allowed commercial use of drones in accordance with a new policy and, subsequently, the Directorate General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) released a set of regulations and do”s and don”ts for flying any type of drones in the country, including those for wedding photography.

Nano drone, which does not weigh more than 250 grams, were exempted from obtaining a Unique Identification Number (UIN) and Unmanned Aircraft Operator Permit (UAOP) but the owners of such drones were directed to follow certain rules like flying the machine only within 50 feet above the ground level, not flying in a controlled airspace (where Air Traffic control or ATC services are provided) and no other manned or unmanned aircraft is flying nearby.

“Almost all the drones available with our members are Nano drones. We are eagerly waiting for the government to take a call and will ensure full cooperation,” Kumar said. ( Source PTI)

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