New Delhi: Even though doctors’ body, IMA has warned of third Covid wave and Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed concerns saying “we cannot compromise even a bit”, the Yogi-led Uttar Pradesh government doesn’t seem to cancel annual Kanwar Yatra and is all set to give a green signal to, what could be a super spreader religious congregation in its state. However, taking the suo motu cognisance of news reports that the Uttar Pradesh government was allowing the annual Kanwar Yatra amid the fears of a third Covid wave, the Supreme Court on Wednesday sought responses from the state and Centre in two days. The matter will be up for hearing on July 16.
Taking into account contradictory voices, including the Uttarakhand government’s decision to call off the yatra, the bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai directed the UP and Uttarakhand governments to file their response within two days and posted the next hearing for July 16.
“The headline just above this headline speaks about the Prime Minister’s statement when he met the northeastern chief ministers that when people ask about the third wave of the Covid-19 virus striking the citizenry of India, it’s up to us to stop it and we cannot compromise ‘even a bit’. Given the disparate political voices, all speaking at the same time, it is important that the relevant secretary, Union of India, respond to this news report,” the order said.
The bench said: “Given the fact that this yatra is to take off from July 25, it is necessary to fix a short time period for this case. Affidavits will be filed by Friday morning, July 16, responding to the aforesaid news article…”
The Uttarakhand government on Tuesday decided to cancel the Kanwar Yatra, ending days of speculation that the Pushkar Dhami-led government may reverse the decision taken by the previous Tirath Rawat administration on cancelling the yatra.
“At a time when the threat of Covid-19 is still looming and a case of the Delta-plus variant has also been reported from Uttarakhand, we cannot allow Haridwar to become a hotbed of the pandemic,” Dhami said while announcing his government’s decision. “People’s lives are important and we cannot play around with them. It is important to save lives during a pandemic. Even God will not like it if any lives are lost,” he said.
For the unversed, ‘Kanwariyas’ (devotees of Lord Shiva) collect water from River Ganga at Haridwar to offer at Shiva temples in their areas as part of the Kanwar Yatra. The fortnight-long Kanwar Yatra, which begins with the onset of the month of Shravan around July 25, goes on till the first week of August sees crores of ‘Kanwariyas’ travelling from different states on foot to collect the holy waters of the holy Ganga.