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"Due to the clear link between the Kumbh Mela and subsequent deaths, COVID should not be re-invited by allowing large gatherings at shrines": Uttarakhand HC [READ ORDER]

On Wednesday (June 23rd, 2021), the Uttarakhand High Court ruled that the COVID epidemic should not be re-invited by the State Government's permission to hold and authorise massive gatherings at religious locations, as well as the Char Dham Yatra. 

The government has been requested to reconsider its plan to begin the Char Dham Yatra on July 1, 2021, by a bench of Chief Justice Raghvendra Singh Chauhan and Justice Alok Kumar Verma.

 The Court remarked, “Perhaps the Char Dham Yatra should be postponed or cancelled, as the Jammu & Kashmir administration has previously done with the Amarnath Yatra.” 

It acknowledged that the cancellation of the Yatra could cause financial hardship for residents of the Char Dham, but noted that, "It is more vital to save the lives of the people." 

The Court also emphasised that the government was free to propose "economic stimulus initiatives" for the benefit of businessmen and the tourism industry, which is reliant on pilgrims visiting the Char Dham. It also proposed that the Char Dham shrines be live streamed for the benefit of the people of the country, in order to protect their religious sensitivities. "Such live streaming will allow devotees to see the deity, pay devotion to the deity, while also saving people's lives," the Court stated.

The Court then instructed the Chief Secretary to inform the Court of the Cabinet's decision, if any, on the opening of the Char Dham Yatra on June 28, 2021.

It further ordered the State Government to reconsider its decision to open the Char Dham Yatra, citing the following reasons:

  1. To begin with, the "Delta Plus variety," which has already begun to damage Madhya Pradesh and other southern states, will spread to other parts of the country, including Uttarakhand, in the near future.
  2. The Director of the All India Institute of Medical Science in New Delhi has stated that India will be attacked by the third wave of the COVID-19 pandemic by August 2021.
  3. The Jammu and Kashmir administration has already chosen to cancel the Amarnath Yatra slated for this year due of the COVID-19 pandemic, which is still doing devastation.
  4. According to the facts available, Uttarakhand allowed the Kumbh Mela to take place between April 1 and April 30. According to media sources, 59 percent of COVID-19-related deaths in Uttarakhand occurred in the month of May 2021. As a result, there is a definite link between the Kumbh Mela's holding in April 2021 and the deaths that followed in Uttarakhand in May 2021.
  5. On Sunday (June 20, 2021) on the festival of Ganga Dussehra, lakhs of people were allowed to gather at Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar. According to media sources, the SOP dealing with COVID-19 precautions was noted to be more in violation than in compliance.
  6. The holding of the Kumbh Mela and allowing a big gathering of lakhs of people on Ganga Dussehra at Har-ki-Pauri in Haridwar are evident examples of the Civil Administration's inability to follow the preventative SOPs specified by the Central and State Governments. When a big number of devotees congregate, the SOP is generally the first victim; the second victims are the people at large.
  7. The Tourism Department has yet to create the SOP for the start of the Char Dham Yatra, according to an affidavit filed by Dr. Ashish Chauhan.
  8. Finally, and most crucially, the country has been warned that the third wave of COVID-19 will affect our children from the prenatal period to the age of eighteen. If the children are lost or sacrificed on the altar of COVID-19, it will be a loss not only for the parents, but for the entire nation.

 

[READ ORDER]

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