As many as 3.1 million people took a dip in the Holy Ganga around the Kumbh Mela area as per the Kumbh Mela Police Control Room.
This post is not about a religious congregation or about targeting a specific faith or individual nor is it about pointing an accusing finger on those millions of devotees who have gathered at the Kumbh – it is about the shameless double standards being adopted by the government – both at the centre and the states where open ignorance of COVID-19 safety norms is rampant in the guise of faith. It is about the utter lack of responsibility by the authorities – be it the government, administration or the police. It is about the inability of the authorities to maintain the dignity of the occasion and limit the numbers in such a manner as to ensure COVID safety protocols.
With India being hit with a infection onslaught with a much higher intensity than before; with cases going up exponentially, with the death rate increase, health and administration choking for support and a way out, here we have a Chief Minister saying that “no one will be stopped from the Kumbh congregation in the name of COVID” and the Kumbh Mela IG Sanjay Gunjyal (probably echoing government orders) saying “A stampede like situation may arise if we try to impose social distancing at the ghats so we are unable to enforce social distancing here” and then making a hilarious comment – “We are continuously appealing to people to follow COVID appropriate behavior.” The IG of Kumbh Mela, however wrote to the RSS asking for support in handling the Kumbh Mela influx...
WHY DID YOU PERMIT IT IN THE FIRST PLACE? Have we not seen enough examples and enough destruction over the last one year to have taken a decision with rationale and sanity??
While in the earlier incident that occurred with the Tablighi Jamaat when the local government had failed to control and disintegrate even a small gathering at Nizamuddin, the case with the Kumbh Mela is that the dangers are more obvious, more visible now that the authorities and health experts have traversed a complete learning curve. We are at a stage when the new variants of COVID-19 are ripping through the country – hospitals are bursting with an influx of patients while sadly crematoriums are struggling to accommodate funerals.
The BJP government of Uttarakhand with Tirath Singh Rawat at the helm gave a very callous message inviting all devotees to Haridwar for the Mahakumbh and not to worry about COVID-19 restrictions. The callousness and double standards of the government has to put to risk the lives of many devotees, police and administrative personnel and health cadre in addition to creating a possibility of exponential rise in COVID cases. It is a possibility that the rise in COVID cases due to the Mahakumbh congregation will be substantially under reported and we, the silly gullible junta will take it in their stride.
The state government failed, but what was the centre doing? Prime Minister Narendra Modi, March 4 2020 had tweeted that he would not participate in mass gatherings as experts had advised to reduce mass gatherings. What has happened now? And what are the other leaders of the ruling party doing? No statements made? Statement writers busy with election speeches? Or are they waiting for the heat to die down and continue with the election rallies? Elections are due in the state – what is happening is the obvious – political considerations and ambitions have once again put the health of the voters, police, administration, health workers and many others at high risk.