- Supreme Court took up issue on its own, sought replies from UP and centre
- UP had said it would allow only vaccinated devotees to participate
- The court then said it was giving UP “one more opportunity to reconsider”
Uttar Pradesh will not hold Kanwar Yatra this year too, organisers of the religious event have said. The move to cancel Kanwar Yatra amid the COVID-19 pandemic comes a day after the Supreme Court gave the Yogi Adityanath government time till Monday to reconsider its decision to go ahead with the religious event. The Supreme Court had said it was giving the state “one more opportunity to reconsider” or else, it would pass orders.
“Kanwar Yatra has been cancelled by Kanwar sanghs on the appeal of the Uttar Pradesh government,” Additional Chief Secretary of Information Navneet Sehgal told PTI. The yatra was scheduled to start on July 25.
The Kanwar Yatra was cancelled last year too, amid the first wave of the Covid pandemic.
Every year, some 30 million Kanwariyas or devotees of Lord Shiva from northern states walk or drive down in groups to collect water from the Ganga in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar and take it to offer at temples of Lord Shiva back home.
The looming threat of a Covid third wave months after a deadly second wave that killed over 2.5 lakh people, however, have led the organisers to reconsider their decision to hold the religious event. Crowding and lack of social distancing could worsen the pandemic, experts have said.
UP’s neighbour Uttarakhand cancelled Kanwar Yatra on Tuesday and will close state borders for Kanwariyas from July 24, Uttarakhand Director General of Police Ashok Kumar has said. Uttarakhand has allowed states to send tankers to Haridwar to take Ganga water.
The Supreme Court had taken up the Kanwar Yatra issue on its own and had told the UP government and the centre to respond. The UP government told the court it would hold a symbolic yatra and only devotees who have been fully vaccinated would be allowed to participate. The centre did not oppose the Kanwar Yatra, citing religious sentiment.
The Supreme Court had said people were “perplexed” that UP allowed the yatra at a time Prime Minister Narendra Modi and medical experts have warned against large gatherings and have asked people to follow social distancing and other Covid safety rules.