BHOPAL: Despite the collector guidelines to close religious places, they are still open in the state capital. There is always a rush of devotees to these places. The administration, itself, admits that the collector’s orders have not been enforced in the state capital so far.
Collector Avinash Lavania, in his order, had clearly instructed that religious places should be closed to check public assembly in view of the increasing number of corona cases in the city. Only one or two spiritual leaders were allowed to perform customary puja, or prayers in religious places as a routine instead of a mass gathering of devotees. Even in churches, only 20 people were allowed at a time for prayers.
These guidelines were tossed to the winds—not only by the public, but by the administration, itself. Devotees are still visiting these shrines en masse to offer obeisance.
Similarly, people are still seen moving about in the markets in large numbers without masks despite warnings and stiff fines. The administration has to enforce masks and discourage gatherings and assemblies in any form or in any place. However, the administration has started distributing masks in public. Even the state government has stressed the importance of raising awareness in public with the support of the religious leaders for implementation of such protocols as putting on masks, maintaining social distancing and so forth.
According to the other provisions of the collector guidelines, markets were to be closed at 9 pm instead of 10 pm. All religious places were to be closed till further orders and congregations there were not allowed. People sitting in restaurants waiting for takeaways is permitted. As many as 50 people have been allowed to attend a wedding ceremony, while, at a funeral, a gathering of only 20 people will be permitted.
‘Will enforce the order’
"The collector guidelines are still in force and it has been clearly instructed that religious places in the state capital should be closed till further orders, but this hasn’t been enforced so far. We’ll now enforce it. We’ve also realised that religious places are open and devotees visit these shrines to offer obeisance and it leads to a mass gathering. But, in pandemic times, this isn’t justified. We’ll ensure that religious places remain closed to check public gathering. Similarly, we’ve started distributing masks in marketplaces with the aim of raising awareness in public about adherence to such protocols as maintaining social distancing and putting on masks," said SDM Kshitiz Sharma.