Despite Criticism, Uttarakhand Govt Refuses to Cancel Kumbh Mela

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Sadhus, or Hindu holy men, take a dip in the Ganges river during the first Shahi Snan at “Kumbh Mela”, or the Pitcher Festival, in Haridwar, India, March 11, 2021. REUTERS/Anushree Fadnavis

State CM says people’s health is a priority but matters of faith cannot be totally ignored.

Team Clarion

NEW DELHI – Amid criticism of massive crowds at Kumbh Mela in Hariduwar, Uttarakhand government on Thursday refused to cancel the huge religious gathering of devotees.

“The Kumbh Mela used to begin in January, but looking at the Covid situation, the state government decided to start it in April this time. The centre’s SOP said because of the situation, the duration would be reduced. I have no information of it being curtailed,” said Deepak Rawat, District Magistrate, Haridwar, and Kumbh Mela officer.

In view of the great surge in the second wave of Coronavirus, many people including prominent figures have harshly criticized the government for allowing such huge gathering of Kumbh mela. Bollywood director and producer Ram Gopal Verma is one among those who has been continuously criticizing the Kumbh mela gathering.

In a tweet, Verma asked Uttarakhand CM that whether he took kickbacks to allow such gathering.

Sharing a video of a massive gathering, he called Kumbh Mela ‘Corona Mela’.

In another tweet, he said that lakhs of people are getting covid as a blessing from the Kumbh mela.

There were others who pointed to the double standard approach of the government with regard to the religious gathering. They recalled how the government hounded the Tablighi Jamaat preachers for holding a congregation last year in March when the cases of infection were nominal.

Reacting to backlash against the Kumbh mela, Uttarakhand CM Rawat said people’s health is a priority but matters of faith cannot be totally ignored.

“Cases have of course risen of late but we are following the health ministry guidelines and the recovery rate is good. Arrangements are also adequate to deal with any situation,” he said.

He also refused to compare the situation of Kumbh Mela to that of Tablighi Jamaat saying that the government is taking all covid-19 measures.

However, the data provided to the media shows that 1,701 devotees have tested positive for Covid-19 in the last five days. Among millions of people, the test has been conducted on around 2.37 lakh people.

There are also reports of deaths of those who have attended the gathering. 

Head of Maha Nirvani Akhara Kapildev, who was in Haridwar to take part in Kumbh Mela, died at Kailash Hospital, Dehradun on Thursday after he tested positive for COVID19.

According to Haridwar’s Chief Medical Officer Shambhu Kumar Jha, more RT-PCR test reports are awaited and the trend shows that the number of infected persons in the Kumbh Mela site is likely to climb to 2,000.

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