Lakhs of devotees have gathered at the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar even as India is struck by double whammy of second COVID-19 wave and a healthcare system on doldrums. Haridwar reported 594 new coronavirus cases on Tuesday, thus, taking the number of active cases to 2,812. Haridwar's coronavirus count was 408 on Monday.
Moreover, over 6 lakh devotees have arrived to participate in the Baisakhi snan which considered as the biggest of all the snans at the Kumbh mela.
Inspector-General of Police, Haridwar Kumbh Mela Sanjay Gunjyal said, "Baisakhi's snan is considered to be the biggest of all 4 shahi snans and 11 snans of Kumbh combined. Compared to 1.60 crore people who arrived here in 2010, as captured by satellite image, around 6 lakh people arrived this year for Baisakhi snan."
A large number of people took the third shahi snan of Kumbh at Haridwar's Har ki Pauri ghat. The Kumbh Mela, which usually lasts for four months has been curtailed to one month due to the ongoing coronavirus situation.
The large congregation has drawn comparisons with the Tablighi Jamaat event in Delhi last year that came under fire for flouting norms. Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat has said that this event should not be likened to the Tablighi Jamaat event. Rawat said while the Tablighi Jamaat congregation was organised in a closed space, the Kumbh Mela is being organised in an open space.
Haridwar District Magistrate Deepak Rawat has appealed to the devotees to follow COVID-appropriate behaviour. Rawat said, "We are appealing to the people and making them aware about Covid-19 safety protocol. We are asking people to wear masks but ensuring social distancing in this very small area (where the Kumbh Mela is being held) is going to be a really challenging task."
Experts have told India Today that flouting COVID-19 protocols would lead to a rise in COVID-19 infections in several states.
Shiv Sena MP Sanjay Raut too has expressed concerns that the ongoing Kumbh Mela where COVID-19 norms have been tossed away could worsen India's coronavirus situation.
Raut said, "It is painful for the Shiv Sena to put restrictions on our festivals and religious celebrations but the party dares to do so to save the lives of people. Our priority is to save as many lines as possible. I believe that people coming from the Kumbh mela will cause further spread of COVID-19 cases, which will cause havoc."
Uttarakhand has reported 9,353 active coronavirus cases and 1,780 deaths so far. India has reported more than 1.84 lakh cases which comprise more than 1 lakh active cases, 82,339 recoveries and 1,027 fatalities in the last 24 hours.