The Kanwar yatra in Uttar Pradesh has been cancelled this year, the State government said on Saturday evening.
The announcement came three days after the Supreme Court had taken suo motu cognizance of the State’s move to go ahead with the annual yatra amid fears of a third wave of the pandemic.
The Supreme Court had said it could not allow the Uttar Pradesh government “to hold 100% physical Kanwar yatra in view of COVID”, stressing that sentiments, including religious ones, are subservient to the right to life.
“On the appeal of the Uttar Pradesh government, the Kanwar Sanghs have cancelled the Kanwar yatra this year,” said Navneet Sehgal, additional chief secretary information, U.P. The State government had earlier said it was going ahead with a pared-down “symbolic” version.
On July 9, Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath even convened a meeting for the preparation and security arrangements for the yatra. Mr. Adityanath had instructed officials to make all preparations in time. He had directed officials to ensure that the COVID protocol was fully followed in these yatras.
The yatra was scheduled to start on July 25.
The Uttarakhand government has already called off the Kanwar Yatra citing fears expressed by experts of a possible third wave of the pandemic and the risk posed by such gatherings.
The yatra goes on till the first week of August and sees thousands of Shiva devotees called ‘kanwariyas’ travelling mostly on foot from neighbouring states, including Uttar Pradesh, Haryana and Delhi to collect water from the Ganges in Haridwar.
The Centre had told the top court that the state governments must not permit any kind of Kanwar yatra because of the pandemic and arrangements should be made for water from the Ganges to be available through tankers at designated places.
(With PTI inputs)