Postpone or cancel Char Dham yatra: Uttarakhand high court tells state government

As the fear of the novel coronavirus has not settled yet, the Uttarakhand High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to re-think on its decision of reopening religious nes which will invite huge crowd. Uttarakhand government recently while lifting curbs also announced that the famous 'Char Dham' yatra will resume from July 1 onwards.

However the high court during the hearing said observed that the COVID pandemic should not be re-invited by holding and permitting large gathering at religious shrines, and by permitting the Char Dham yatra by the state government.

According to a Live Law report, The Bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma asked the Government to review its decision to commence the Char Dham on July 1.

Further the court stressed that the Government was free to announce 'economic stimulus plans' for the benefits of the businessmen and the tourism industry which depends on pilrgrims visiting Char Dham yatra.

It suggested to live stream the Char Dham shrines for the benefit of the people of the country, to take care of the religious sentiments of the people.

The high court laid down eight points to the state goverment to review its decision to open the Char Dham Yatra:

First, the emergence of the "Delta Plus variant" which has already started affecting Madhya Pradesh and other Southern states, will soon spread to other parts of the country, including Uttarakhand.

Second, the statement given by the Director, All India Institute of Medical Science, New Delhi, that India will be hit by the third wave of COVID-19 pandemic

Third, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic which still continues to play havoc, the Jammu and Kashmir administration has already decided to cancel the Amarnath Yatra scheduled this year.

Fourth, a perusal of data available clearly indicates that Uttarakhand had permitted the Kumbh Mela between 01st April to 30th April. According to the media reports, 59% of deaths that occurred in Uttarakhand due to COVID-19 occurred in the month of May, 2021. Thus, there is a clear correlation between the holding of Kumbh Mela in April, 2021, and the consequent deaths that occurred in Uttarakhand in May, 2021.

Fifth, recently, on 20.06.2021, on the occasion of Ganga Dussehra, lakhs of people were permitted to gather at Har-ki-Pauri at Haridwar. According to the media reports, the SOP dealing with the precautions to be taken for COVID-19 was observed more in the breach than in compliance.

Sixth, holding of Kumbh Mela, and in permitting a large congregation of lakhs of people on Ganga Dussehra at Har-ki-Pauri at Haridwar are clear cut proof of the failure of the Civil Administration, to administer the precautionary SOPs prescribed by the Central Government and the State Government.

Seventh, according to the affidavit filed by Dr. Ashish Chauhan, the Tourism Department is yet to prepare the SOP for opening the Char Dham Yatra.

Eighth, the country has already been warned that the third wave of COVID-19 will hit our children from prenatal age group to eighteen years. If the children are lost or are being sacrificed at the altar of COVID-19, the loss will not only be of the parents, but also be of the nation at large.

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