Photo from Kanwar Yatra 2019
Photo from Kanwar Yatra 2019
File photo

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday issued notice to the Uttar Pradesh government over its decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra from next week despite the COVID-19 threat.

The court took up the matter on its own following the state granting permission yesterday, and has sought a response from Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath's government. The matter will be up for hearing on July 16.

On Tuesday the UP government said the Kanwar Yatra - a gathering of tens of thousands of devotees of Lord Shiva - could take place from July 25 with a "minimum number of people" and that a negative RT-PCR test could be made compulsory, if required.

The Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath on Friday (July 9) directed the officials to ensure strict adherence to COVID-19 protocol and safety of the yatris.

Kanwar Yatra begins in late July with the onset of Shrawan and goes on till early August covering a period of nearly a fortnight, sees a huge gathering of Shiva devotees on the banks of the Ganga in Haridwar mainly from Uttar Pradesh, Delhi, Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh to collect its holy waters for "Jalabhishek" in Shiva temples.

Meanwhile, just days after cancelling the annual Kanwar Yatra in the state citing the COVID-19 pandemic, newly appointed Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami has said that the Kanwar Yatra is a matter of shraddha (reverence) and aastha (faith), adding that “god would not like anyone to die”. His remarks came soon after discussing the annual pilgrimage with Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.

The Indian Medical Association (IMA) had also written to Uttarakhand Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami to disallow the Kanwar Yatra this year in light of the possible third COVID-19 wave. In the letter, IMA Uttarakhand State Secretary Dr Ajay Khanna expressed concerns about the crowds that may gather for the annual pilgrimage and urged Dhami not to allow devotees from outside to enter the state for the Yatra.

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