New Delhi: Amid chants of ‘Har Har Mahadev’ and ‘Ganga Maiyya Ki Jai’, lakhs of devotees on Monday took in a holy dip in River Ganga at Haridwar, Uttarakhand. The ‘shahi snan’ (an auspicious bath) is taken as a part of the Kumbh Mela–a major religious congregation for Hindus.
However, the number is a matter of worry, for India is currently facing a major threat in the name of the second wave of COVID-19 cases with as many 1,68,912 new cases reported on Sunday. Uttarakhand alone reported 1,333 new positives, taking the total number of active cases to 7,323.
Kumbh Mela Inspector General (IG) Sanjay Gunjyal also admitted that it is difficult to ensure social distancing norms during the second ‘Shahi snan’.
“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 told ANI.
In March 2020, before the onset of the virus in the country, over 3,000 people including foreign nationals attended the Jamaat at the Markaz in the national capital. Not only were they blamed to be the carriers of the virus into the country, several even painted it a communal angle and called it ‘Corona Jihad’, a deliberate attempt to spread the fatal virus by them.
Last year when the government was yet to declare Covid-19 a health emergency, members of the Tablighi Jamaat were labelled as “super spreaders”. But, Kumbh now has a solid government backing. Lakhs of people are attending the Mela, with no proper enforcement of COVID-19 protocol.
While Kumbh is being held in its full glory despite these concerns, social media took to point out the hypocrisy of people, the government and mainstream media that was quick to label the Tablighi Jamaat congregation at Hazrat Nizamuddin as ‘super spreader’ and ‘jihadi’.
Actor Shreya Dhanwanthary of ‘Scam 1992’ fame expressed her concern on the same and requested people to stay indoors.
The media though, which made a huge hue and cry last year during the Tablighi incident and was responsible for the hate that was being spread against Muslims, seem to have lost their voice now.
Keeping the religion angle aside, in the end its on us. People know this is a pandemic and the dangers it poses. In spite of that, if they choose to break COVID protocol, it shows their insensitivity. The real problem lies in the selective punitive measures meted out to those who belong to the majority versus those from minority communities.