The Supreme Court on Friday asked Uttar Pradesh 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.
ANI quoted the apex court as saying, “It concerns all of us and is at the heart of the fundamental right to life. The health of citizens of India and right to life is paramount, all other sentiments whether being religious is subservient to this basic fundamental right."
A bench of Justices RF Nariman and BR Gavai made the directions to the Uttar Pradesh government after it told the court that it had decided after relevant discussions to hold a symbolic Kanwar Yatra with appropriate Covid restrictions.
Meanwhile, Uttar Pradesh government sources have told News18.com that the government was in talks with Kanwar sanghs to convince them to call of the yatra. Last year too it was these sanghs that had decided to call it off.
Solicitor General Tushar Mehta for the Centre told the top court that states shall not be allowed to hold Kanwar Yatra in view of Covid and arrangements for Ganga water should be made by tankers at specified places.
This comes even as the counsel for Uttarakhand informed the Supreme Court that it has decided to call of the Kanwar yatra completely.
The Supreme Court took suo motu cognisance of media reports on the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to allow ‘Kanwar Yatra’ amidst the pandemic and sought responses from the state as well as the Centre “given the disparate political voices" on the matter. It had referred to the statement of Prime Minister Narendra Modi that not even a bit of compromise can be made on Covid-19 containment and said the citizens were perplexed about the happenings in view of the fact that the UP government has allowed the religious ‘yatra’ commencing from July 25. It had issued notices to the Centre and the state governments of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
On Monday, Uttar Pradesh chief minister Yogi Adityanath had told News18, “Every life is important. It’s an epidemic, it doesn’t see caste and religion. We need to keep all vigil. We are not going to impose a ban on Kanwar Yatra but will ensure full implementation of covid protocol."
Uttarakhand, weeks after holding the Kumbh Mela attended by over 35 lakh people, decided otherwise. The decision was taken after a meeting between chief minister Pushkar Singh Dhami and officials of the state government. “We are not interested in turning Haridwar into a Covid-19 hotspot. We do not want to put people’s lives at risk. Keeping this in mind we have decided to cancel the Kanwar Yatra. We have to save lives. God wouldn’t want lives to be lost," said Dhami after the meeting.
(With PTI inputs)