The Rajasthan government has banned the Kanwar pilgrimage in the state, in newly-issued Covid-19 guidelines on Friday. All other religious gatherings and events have also been banned here.
The development comes after eleven cases of the Kappa variant were detected in the state. Last week, two cases of the Kappa variant were also detected in Uttar Pradesh.
The Uttarakhand government had banned the ‘Kanwar Yatra’ earlier, citing the threat due to the Covid pandemic. The borders of Uttarakhand will be sealed for Kanwariyas from July 24.
As per the guidelines, religious processions of ‘Kavad Yatra’ and gatherings on Eid-ul-Adha will not be permitted in the wake of the pandemic. Chaturmas festival is organised in many places of the state by the Jain community and many other people. This event lasts for four months. Devotees from all over the world come to participate in this event. Such events will not be allowed in any public and religious place, the guidelines said.
They said there will be a ban on all religious events. The government appealed to people to take adequate precautions and follow the coronavirus protocol. As far as possible, stay at home and offer prayers with family members, it said.
As per the guidelines, swimming pools will not be allowed to open. Public parks will remain open from 5 am to 4 pm, they said, adding persons who have taken at least one dose (first dose) of Covid vaccine will be allowed to enter parks from 4 pm to 8 pm. All the district magistrates, commissioners of police have been instructed to ensure strict compliance of “No Mask No Movement".
The district administration will ensure monitoring of violation of quarantine rules and Covid appropriate behavior in all urban and rural areas, the guidelines said.
With the start of the month of Shravan in the Hindu calendar on July 25, Kanwariyas begin to pour into Haridwar in large numbers to collect the holy water of the Ganga.
Uttarakhand DGP asked police officials to strictly implement the order, saying if a Kanwariya enters Haridwar defying the suspension, he should be put under forced quarantine for 14 days. The places where they would be kept in quarantine should be identified in advance, he said. Police officials were also asked to prepare a standard operating procedure (SOP) in consultation with the district magistrates concerned in view of the suspension of the Kanwar Yatra.
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had earlier said that the Kanwar pilgrimage would not be banned in the state, but be held in strict Covid-19 compliance in consultation with Kanwar unions. However, on Friday, the Supreme Court asked UP to reconsider holding a ‘symbolic’ Kanwar Yatra amid warnings from experts that the third wave of Covid-19 is likely to hit the country soon and asked the state government to apprise of its decision by July 19.
After the Supreme Court’s intervention, the UP government has approached the Kanwar sanghs (unions) for the cancellation of the popular pilgrimage. Sources in the UP government told News18 that the announcement of suspension of the pilgrimage will be made via the Kanwar sanghs.
A dialogue is currently in process with the Kanwar sanghs to convince them to call off the yatra due to the pandemic, the sources said. In 2020, too, it were these unions who had announced the cancellation of pilgrimage.
The SC said health and the right to life is paramount, and asked the Yogi government to reconsider its decision to allow Kanwar yatra. “We all are citizens of India. Article 21 - the Right to Life - applies to all. UP cannot go ahead with physical yatra. 100 percent," said Justice RF Nariman.