31 Lakh Devotees Take ‘Snan’ in Kumbh Mela Amid COVID Surge

The Quint
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Producer: Shohini Bose

Video Editor: Abhishek Sharma

Despite the country’s struggling situation with the COVID-19 surge, as many as 31 lakh people have taken ‘snan’ in and around the Kumbh Mela area till 6 pm on Monday, 12 April, the Police Control Room said, according to news agency ANI. The ‘snan’ went on till 9 pm.

The crowd assembled at Har ki Pauri ghat on the river banks to take a holy dip on the occasion, violating all COVID-19 norms.

However, on the account of increasing COVID cases, a negative RT-PCR test report not older than 72 hours before arrival has been made mandatory for the devotees.

The Kumbh Mela is a Hindu pilgrimage held every 12 years at river ford sites along the Ganges river in India.

‘Difficult to Enforce Social Distancing’

Kumbh Mela Inspector General Sanjay Gunjayal had admitted that it was difficult for the police to enforce social distancing during the second shahi snan where massive crowds gathered.

“We are continuously appealing to people to follow COVID-19-appropriate behaviour. But due to the huge crowd, it is practically not possible to issue challans today. It is very difficult to ensure social distancing at ghats,” Gunjyal had told news agency ANI.

“A stampede-like situation may arise if we would try to enforce social distancing at ghats, so we are unable to enforce social distancing here,” he had said.

Gunjyal had also informed that the common public will be allowed till 7 am. “After that, this area will be reserved for akharas.”

‘Will Ensure COVID-19 Protocols Are Followed’: CM Rawat

In an interview with India TV, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat on Sunday, 11 April, said, “For Chaar Dhaam, I have already chaired a meeting with the concerned authorities and have asked them to ensure all COVID-19 protocols are followed; proper sanitisation and wearing of masks has to be ensured”.

However, the images reveal that social distancing and other COVID norms were compromised.

Social distancing and COVID norms violated during Kumbh Mela 2021.
Social distancing and COVID norms violated during Kumbh Mela 2021.
Devotees bathing at Har ki Pauri ghat on the banks of Ganges for Shahi Snan.
Devotees bathing at Har ki Pauri ghat on the banks of Ganges for Shahi Snan.

"“We have arranged for testings at Kumbh, our aim is to ensure the safety of those visiting the Kumbh Mela [sic]. We will take care of other COVID-19 guidelines as well.”" - Tirath Singh Rawat, Uttarakhand Chief Minister20 Pilgrims Test COVID Positive Everyday

Union Health Secretary Rajesh Bhushan, in a letter to the Uttarakhand chief secretary, had said that as many as 20 pilgrims are being reported COVID-19 positive daily at the Kumbh.

Uttarakhand reported 1,333 new coronavirus cases on Sunday, taking the tally in the state to 1,08,812. The active cases in the state stood at 7,323.

Also Read: Kumbh Mela 2021: Imp Dates, COVID-19 Guidelines, Special Trains

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