Hours after the Supreme Court called the UP government’s decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra amid the pandemic as “disturbing” and sought a response by Friday, UP Minister for Health and Family Welfare Jai Pratap Singh said Wednesday that the Yatra will be held because it is a matter of “faith” and “tradition”.
On the top court taking suo motu cognisance of a report on the state government’s decision, Singh told The Indian Express: “We will give a reply when the hearing takes place. We will follow all guidelines and instructions given by the court. At the same time, it is a tradition and takes place every year, and we have allowed it because we strongly believe in our Covid management.”
He said special arrangements will be made at primary health centres and community health centres for the Kanwar Yatris to get RT-PCR and antigen tests done. They will be required to carry the test result reports with them when they move out from their respective districts, he said.
Since the Yatra starts July 25, other details, he said, would be decided at a meeting with Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
“This Yatra is not new. This used to take place in the past also and the Yatra was never stopped. It is a traditional system and an issue of faith. Thus, no ban was imposed on it in the past too,” Singh said.
“Whatever Uttarakhand has done (it has suspended the Yatra), it is their arrangement. But as far as Uttar Pradesh is concerned, we have been making all the required arrangements and are already in touch with different Kanwar organisations through the Home department,” he said.
“We are testing 2.5 lakh people and vaccinating 8-9 lakh people in a day. Thus, we are confident that we will be able to ensure proper Covid management protocols,” he said.
Meanwhile, Uttarakhand government spokesperson Subodh Uniyal, responding to a query on the Supreme Court’s observations, said: “Our government is speaking to the governments of UP, Rajasthan, Haryana and other states from where devotees come, with an appeal to stop them. We have stopped the Yatra because they (devotees) leave from different states but gather here.”
Uniyal said belief, faith and religion are important, but lives cannot be endangered — “lekin dharm ke prati aastha ka matlab nahi hai ki hum aam aadmi ke jeevan ke saath khilwad karein”.
He said the Uttarakhand government is making efforts to ensure that devotees are stopped at places from where they set out
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