At least 17 seers of Niranjani Akhara, including its secretary Ravindra Das Puri, have tested positive for coronavirus in a mass rapid antigen test camp conducted on Friday at the Akhara premises. The seers tested positive a day after Puri said the Akhara will be exiting the Kumbh Mela on Saturday given the surge in cases.
Mass testing of Niranjani Akhara seers was conducted after several complained of fever and cold. Officials 17 have tested positive so far and the number could shoot up. Earlier in the day, Mahant Manish Bharti was shifted to AIIMS Rishikesh hospital after complaining of breathlessness due to Covid infection.
Niranjani Akhara secretary Puri declared he has tested positive and was isolating himself. On Thursday, Puri said the Haridwar is in a “bad shape”. With the rising number of seers testing positive, he said the situation is not feasible for the Kumbh Mela to continue.
The President of the Akhara Parishad Mahant Narendra Giri is already battling Covid-19 infection and has been hospitalised at AIIMS, Rishikesh. The Mahant is also associated with the Niranjani Akhara.
Covid reports of some 200 seers of Juna Akhara who were tested on Thursday are awaited.
Meanwhile, tensions rose after Akhada Parishad issued its statement on wrapping up the Kumbh early. Four Akharas – Bada Udasin Akhada, Nirmohi, Nirwani and Digambar Akhara expressed their displeasure and said they were not in the view of concluding the Kumbh early.
As per the notification, the Kumbh will continue till April 30 and the fourth and last ‘shahi snan’ will be held on April 27. The four Akharas who are opposing the move to shorten Kumbh said they were eager to participate in the next 'shahi Snan'.