Uttarakhand HC lashes out at state govt over violation of COVID protocols during Kumbh Mela, Char Dham Yatra
The remarks came after the violation of Covid-19 protocols at Kumbh Mela attracted attention from across the world.
Amid rising cases of Covid-19 in the country, the Uttarakhand High Court on May 20 expressed its concern with state government's failure in ensuring compliance with social distancing norms while holding religious events like Kumbh Mela and Char Dham Yatra.
According to Bar and Bench, the court made these observations after it came across videos on social media showing a large number of priests moving around in pilgrimage centres in Badrinath and Kedarnath without wearing masks and social distancing.
The remarks came after the violation of Covid-19 protocols at Kumbh Mela attracted attention from across the world. Moreover, social media was flooded with videos of Kumbh Mela in Haridwar where hundreds of thousands of people gathered for a holy dip in the Ganges, violating the mask and social distancing norms.
A bench of Chief Justice RS Chauhan and Justice Alok Verma said that the blatant violation of social distancing norms during these religious gatherings have caused embarrassment to the state.
“First we make the mistake of Kumbh Mela, then there is Char Dham. Why do we repeatedly cause embarrassment to ourselves?,” the Chief Justice asked, as per the report.
However, a state tourism department representative told the court that for each place of worship, there are earmarks to ensure distancing, to which the court responded saying that there are videos showing violation of Covid-19 norms on social media.
"Those videos which are available on social media. You yourself should be asking these questions, instead of court asking these questions. You are issuing orders on paper, no one is implementing," the Chief Justice said.
“Nobody is following your earmarks. Please take a chopper to Char Dham, you will find what the reality is. Please take next chopper to Char Dham, go to Kedarnath…” the Chief Justice said.
The Uttarakhand government on April 29 suspended this year's Char Dham Yatra and said that only the priests of the four temples will perform the puja and other rituals.
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