Authorities in Uttar Pradesh's Muzaffarnagar and Shamli on Monday sealed the borders of the districts with neighbouring states of Uttarakhand and Haryana, respectively, in view of the cancellation of the annual Kanwar Yatra due to the coronavirus pandemic, officials said.
Kanwar Yatra is an annual pilgrimage of devotees of Lord Shiva known as kanwariyas. The devotees visit Haridwar, Gaumukh and Gangotri in Uttarakhand and Sultanganj in Bihar to fetch holy waters of river Ganga during the auspicious Hindu month of Shravan.
The borders of Muzaffarnagar and Shamli with Uttarakhand and Haryana, respectively, were sealed to prevent kanwariyas from entering the districts, the officials said.
Fifty-eight checkpoints have been set up on the Delhi-Haridwar national highway and at other places along the Uttarakhand border to check the arrival of kanwariyas headed to Haridwar, Senior Superintendent of Police, Muzaffarnagar, Abhishek Yadav told reporters on Monday.
They will not be allowed to proceed to Haridwar, he said. In Shamli, police have sealed the Yamuna bridge on the Panipat-Khatima highway, the officials said.
During a meeting between district magistrates of Shamli and Panipat earlier on Monday, it was decided not to allow kanwariyas coming from Haryana and Rajasthan to enter Shamli. Police officers from the two districts also attended the meeting, they said.
Last month, chief ministers of Uttarakhand, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana arrived at a consensus to cancel the Kanwar Yatra this year to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Despite authorities repeatedly asking people not to undertake the pilgrimage, there have been reports about kanwariyas trying to reach Haridwar.