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SC issues notice to Uttar Pradesh Govt over permitting Kanwar Yatra Amid Pandemic

New Delhi: The Supreme Court on Wednesday held suo motu cognizance of the Uttar Pradesh government’s judgment to grant the Kanwar Yatra amid the coronavirus pandemic.

The bench has declared notice to Union Government and UP Govt. The matter will be heard on Friday.

The pilgrimage is offered by followers of the Hindu deity Shiva. They assemble water, ordinarily from the river Ganga, and offer it at Shiva temples in their respective states. These followers, named Kanwariyas, travel hundreds of kilometers on foot.

The Uttarakhand government had on Tuesday dropped the Kanwar Yatra amid concerns of a potential third wave of the Covid-19 health emergency. 

However, Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar said to The Indian Express that the state will operate the pilgrimage between July 25 to August 6.

On Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench, headed by Justice RF Nariman, transmitted a report to the central and the Uttar Pradesh government. 

The court stated that it brought up the matter following seeing a report on The Indian Express concerning the Uttar Pradesh government’s settlement to continue the Kanwar Yatra even though Uttarakhand had dropped it.

“We are a little disturbed given today’s headline in The Indian Express about the Kanwar yatra which is likely to be held from July 25,” the court said. “Given the disparate stances, it is important that the Home Secretary, Union of India respond to this news report. Given the fact that this yatra is to take off from 25th July, it is necessary to fix a short timetable.”

A spokesperson for the Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday stated that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath said that solely a few devotees should be permitted to partake in the pilgrimage. 

The official continued that the government might make negative RT-PCR tests briefs mandatory for participation in the yatra.

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