Haridwar’s Har Ki Pauri recently made headlines when in July this year, hundreds of pilgrims were seen thronging to the Uttarakhand ghat, in stark violation of Covid-19 norms. Now, after several instances of people haunting the ghat in an inebriated state and raising ruckus, partying, the Ganga Sabha has decided to equip security guards at the area with breath analysers or alcometers. According to the Hindustan Times, Ganga Sabha general secretary Tanmay Vashisth said that after the relaxation of curbs relating to Covid-19 in the past few weeks, the footfall from other states to Har-Ki-Pauri has increased and with it, incidents of anti-social activities and hooliganism. “With alcometer equipment, security guards will check such suspected offenders and bar them from entering the Ganga ghats at Har-Ki-Pauri and adjacent ghats," the report quoted the Sabha general secretary as saying.
The Ganga Sabha was started by Pandit Madan Mohan Malaviya in 1916. The famous Ganga Aarti at the ghat has been conducted by the Sabha, twice a day since then- the Mangala Aarti at sunrise and the Shringar Aarti at sunset. According to the Hindustan Times report, the entry points to Har Ki Pauri where security guards with the alcometers will be deployed will include Upper road, Kangda ghat, Ashes immersion ghat and Mahila ghat. Additionally, twenty security guards would be deployed at various other sites to check visitors and ensure that they are not inebriated. Vashisth said that the police were already running Operation Maryada to rein in acts of hooliganism at the Ganga ghats. Under the operation launched in July, over 350 people have been fined, booked or arrested already.
Covid appropriate behaviour and social distancing had gone for a toss in Uttarakhand earlier this year, with videos of pilgrims thronging Haridwar’s Har ki Pauri Ghat hemerging. This happened even as public outrage had been pouring in over tourists assembling at Mussoorie’s Kempty falls. The Nainital high court had, at that point, directed the state government to review its decision to relax the lockdown during the weekends, saying “the tourists may bring in and introduce the dreaded Delta plus variant in the state".