Reacting to the Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand government's decision of cancelling Kanwar Yatra due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, Vishwa Hindu Parishad's (VHP) international joint general secretary Surendra Jain on Sunday urged the two state governments to rethink their decision and allow the religious pilgrimage with coronavirus restrictions.
"Kanwar Yatra is a very important religious yatra for Hindus that ties the country in unity. COVID-19 protocols should be followed but it is not right to ban the yatra. It is my appeal to Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand governments to rethink their decision and allow the yatra. However, limiting it by the implementation of COVID-19 protocols," Jain said.
He further stated that the judiciary must not be "selective" in its decision.
Suggesting the governing bodies to find ways to hold the yatra, Jain said, "Judiciary must not be selective in its decision. Instead of suppressing the religious belief of the people, the state governments and Supreme Court must find ways to control the situation in future."
VHP international joint secretary also pointed out that in the recent past, Jagannath Yatra was permitted to take place with certain restrictions.
Ahead of Bakrid, Kerala government announced a three-day concession from weekend lockdown owing to the festival celebration in the state.
"Didn't Jagannath Yatra take place while following precautions? Didn't the Kerala government decide to allow Bakrid to take place with some relaxations?" he questioned.
Uttar Pradesh government after holding talks with Kanwar Sanghs (organisations), following nudge by the Supreme Court, the organisations decided to call off the yatra on Saturday.
According to Uttar Pradesh government officials, Additional Chief Secretary Home Avnish Awasthi and DGP Mukul Goel held discussions with the Kanwar Sanghs on the instructions of Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath.
Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand government had decided to cancel the yatra on Tuesday.
The Kanwar Yatra, in which Shiva devotees from northern states travel on foot or by other means to collect water from Ganga in Haridwar to offer it at Shiva temples in their areas, is set to begin from July 25.