LUCKNOW: The newly sworn in BJP government in Uttarakhand cancelled the annual Kanwar Yatra well in time, heeding the advice of the Union Health Ministry, but the Yogi Adityanath government is refusing to back off.
Rather, taking a deviant line, it has allowed the "Kanwar Yatra" from July 25 despite concerns being raised in various quarters over the risk posed by such an event. Apparently, Yogi does not find it politically expedient to scrap the yatra in the run-up to the State Assembly election.
A Supreme Court Bench of Justices Rohinton Fali Nariman and Bhushan R Gavai on Wednesday took suo motu cognizance of the Yogi government's decision and issued notice to it as well as to the Centre. The court has asked as to why the UP government has allowed the Yatra when the prime minister has warned against hosting of such crowded events.
Justice Nariman said he had read in newspapers on Wednesday that Uttar Pradesh has chosen to continue with the annual ritual while Uttarakhand, with hindsight of experience, had said there will be no yatra.
“We wish to know the stand of the respective governments. The citizens of India are completely perplexed. They do not know what is going on," the Bench said, noting that such decisions were being taken even though Prime Minister Narendra Modi has said that ‘we cannot compromise even one bit’."
The "Kanwar Yatra" is an annual pilgrimage of devotees of Shiv Temple who walk hundreds of kilometres barefoot in groups chanting "Bol Bom" and singing Bhajans and consecrate the holy water of the river Ganga.
The Chief Minister of UP is adamant that he is organising the Yatra and issued guidelines for it. As per the guidelines, a negative RT PCR report is needed to take part in the Yatra. Approximately three crore people take part in the ritual every year in UP and Uttarakhand.
Reacting to the decision, spokesperson of Samajwadi Party Anurag Bhadauria said that it is the duty of government to take care of the health of its people. UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh told a news portal, "An appropriate response will be delivered to the Supreme Court with respect.’’ Asked about the SC notice, UP minister Sidharth Nath Singh told India Today, "An appropriate response will be delivered to the Supreme Court with respect. The UP government has said that Kanwar Yatra will take place after adherence to Covid norms. Protocol is being prepared and guidelines will soon be issued."
The minister further reasoned: Policies of all states are different. UP population is dense, but the state is reporting less than 90 new cases each day. In fact, Australia wants to take a cue from CM Adityanath.
Sidharth added, "The opposition must first gather on a single platform. We are all free, all states. The state of UP is capable of taking decisions for itself."
Meanwhile, Adityanath is believed to have rung up Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Dhami and requested him to allow a limited number of devotees from the state to visit Haridwar for the Yatra. (input Our Correspondent)