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Is Kumbh Mela Responsible For Current COVID Wave In India?

Akhilesh Tripathi

NEW DELHI—Describing Kumbh Mela as a ‘super spreader’ event will not be an understatement. Given the pandemic, all religious functions should have been banned. But Uttarakhand government allowed the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar and that led to a spike in COVID cases.

When COVID hit India last year, Tablighi Jamaat function was already underway in New Delhi. And suddenly lockdown was announced. Foreign members were stuck in India and could not return. Later, Tablighi Jamaat was held responsible for the COVID. So many lies and canards were spread.

Amid the second COVID wave, the Uttarakhand government granted permission to Kumbh Mela last month.

Like UP, Uttarakhand is going to the polls next year. And the government does not want to annoy Sadhus and Sants for political benefits. Before Kumbh Mela, the Uttarakhand government had made COVID negative certificate mandatory for anyone coming to attend the function. But it was thrown to the wind.

Lakhs of people and Sashes swarmed Haridwar and violated COVID norms at will. There was no social distancing. As a result, COVID started hitting the people. The situation turned bad to worse. 

Sensing trouble, the Uttarakhand government went into overdrive to prevent the spread. But by then, it was too late. Sadhus started succumbing to the infection. Some of the Sadhus who died were identified as Somnath Giri and Ajay Giri. Others who succumbed include Prem Lata, woman Mahant of Niranjani Akhara, and Rakesh Puri, Mahant of Shri Panchayati Niranjni Akara. So far, nine Sadhus and Mahants have died in Kumbh. It has been confirmed by Mahant Ravinder Puri.

Despite so many Sadhus dying, the Uttarakhand government did not stop Kumbh. They allowed it to go on with an eye on elections. The government violated human sentiments and pushed people into the jaws of death. When people started criticizing Prime Minister Narendra Modi, he called up Acharya Advashanand Giri Maharaj and appealed to him to end Mela.

On April 17, Advashanand announced the end of Kumbh Mela. However, it led to the split in the Sadhu community. A group of Sadhus refused to accept Advashanand’s directive and continued Kumbh till April 28.

Even Uttarakhand chief minister Tirth Singh Rawat did not give heed to Prime Minister’s appeal and allowed Kumbh Mela till April 28.  It proved to be a super spreader event, but the government seemed least concerned.

Interestingly, those people who defamed Muslims and criticized Tablighi Jamaat maintained deafening silence this time around. Nobody opposed Kumbh Mela. It has proved again that functions are being allowed on the basis of religion and caste.

Uttarakhand government is responsible for spreading the infection. Those who visited Kumbh returned with the virus. Former UP chief minister Akhilesh Yadav was also tested positive after meeting Sadhus. Even head of Narsingh Temple in Jabalpur Jagatguru Dr. Swami Shyam Devacharya Maharaj also died of COVID.

Likewise, Mahant of Bhopal’s Gufa temple Chandrama Das Tyagi was tested positive. After battling for life in hospital for 14 days, he passed away on May 1. Those who came from Kumbh and who they met have been tested positive. Many people are not reporting the infection. It has posed a serious threat.

So many people from the Vidisha district of Madhya Pradesh had attended Kumbh Mela. MP government after much difficulty could trace 384 people. They were put under isolation. Of them, 71 have tested positive.

MP government is issuing repeated appeals to people, who had attended Kumbh, to come forward. But nobody is paying attention. COVID has struck terror in MP.

On the other side, the organizers of Kumbh at Haridwar are drawing flak. COVID is spreading fast in Uttarakhand as well. There are reports of deaths from Haridwar, Dehradun, and Udhamsingh Nagar districts. Despite spike in cases, the Uttarakhand government is trying to hide its failures.

The way the government allowed Kumbh even after calling it off, is an unpardonable act. Uttarakhand government has committed a crime against humanity.

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