U.P. scraps free pilgrimage scheme for elderly Hindus

Shravan Yatra was started in 2015

December 20, 2017 07:38 am | Updated 04:26 pm IST - LUCKNOW

A file photo of elderly pilgrims returning after a trip under the Shravan Yatra in Lucknow.

A file photo of elderly pilgrims returning after a trip under the Shravan Yatra in Lucknow.

The Yogi Adityanath government in Uttar Pradesh has scrapped the Shravan Yatra, a scheme under which elderly citizens could undertake pilgrimage free of cost.

The Shravan Yatra was started in 2015 by the previous Samajwadi Party government.

Responding to a question raised in the Assembly, Minister for Religious Affairs Laxmi Narayan Chaudhary said the yatra was being scrapped in “public interest.“ “There is no plan to revive it,” he said.

Former Chief Minister Akhilesh Yadav began the scheme under the name “Samajwadi Shravan Yatra” in March 2015, as part of his outreach to counter allegations of Muslim appeasement made by the BJP.

Inspired by mythological character

Under the scheme, the government bore the entire boarding and lodging expenses for the pilgrimage undertaken by senior citizens. The name of the yatra was inspired by the mythological character Shravan Kumar, who had carried his blind parents on his shoulders for a pilgrimage.

This year, a shadow was cast over the yatra after the trips, scheduled in October, November and December, were cancelled, as the IRCTC, which organises the travel, did not receive funds from the Religious Affairs Ministry, even though ₹14 crore was allocated for it.

Also, while six trains were running under the scheme last year, the number had fallen to two under the new government. Pilgrimage trips were scheduled for Somnath, Dwarka, Madurai, Puri and Konark this year.

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