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Don’t compare Kumbh Mela to Markaz event: Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat

Covid-19 surge continues with 1,68,912 Covid-19 infections reported on Monday across India, even as lakhs of pilgrims congregating at the Kumbh Mela 2021

Sabrangindia 12 Apr 2021

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

"Don’t compare Kumbh Mela to Markaz event," said Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat in a video interview to Hindustan Times even as images of thick crowds of thousands of devotees, many without masks flooded social media well into Monday.

India has reported a record daily tally of over 1,68,912 Covid-19 infections by Monday. According to multiple reports this may grow and fuel yet another spike. According to the BBC, India now accounts for one in every six daily infections worldwide and has overtaken Brazil, on Monday with an overall tally of 13.53 million cases. Second only to the United States, which has a total of 31.2 million cases. 

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/EsOwu5yOyhZNDM5ZCSgFYXbaUd45iod53Kwm2WpKo5kInAKTZi1jIFIPNaKOEDpGcARsmPBhmalam45arTUbFjWghA76xYrgQGokcC34cxnjd85_-oukyZZRE9g_HeRzzwqRa1ZM

Even as state elections continue in West Bengal, the next state in focus is Uttarakhand where the Kumbh Mela, one of the biggest religious gatherings in the world, is in full swing. In Uttarakhand's Haridwar, lakhs of devotees are converging on the banks of the Ganga for a holy dip. The invite to them seems to have come from none other than the state’s Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat, who himself has recently recovered from Covid-19. Rawat has been sharing the importance of the mela encouraging people to “bathe the Ganges in Kumbh,” adding that they must follow Covid-19 guidelines and SOPs. 

However, Covid-19 prevention guidelines include adequate social distancing, and wearing appropriate masks. None of those are being followed here as the many visuals have shown. People are growing in processions, at ghats often without masks. In the water, masks are not helpful anyway. 

The state authorities say they have made virus tests mandatory for those entering its borders, however social distancing is not even a thought here. In the last 24 hours only over a thousand cases have been detected, however it is not known yet if tests were also carried out near the mela site, as well, as the rule said a Covid-19 negative certificate was mandatory.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/FXxJuLse_WsrjHhCnMOr0_QR42_EN_sLf1Bj56k-X-2MxGn2-6L8lUjHRuvoHOdYRy_yAUsEH8Q2iTOqLxikO85meq8JyO0VCZjK1xNmqODuTwFmQPropW_MF6lx4-uvAxOmZ3ta

The CM has claimed the state is well prepared, he says Kumbh is connected with not just India but the world, and people wait for 12 years making a vow to take the holy dip. He told the Hindustan Times that when he took over “Covid-19 was near zero” and hence the state organised a grand welcome for those coming for the Kumbh with flower showers from helicopters and other elaborate preparations. He said “masks and sanitizers” have been arranged at the state borders and maintained that his state is following the Centre’s Covid-19 prevention guidelines of masks and sanitizers. On social distancing he said “we will make efforts”. However, Rawat was unable to explain what the state government’s plan was on maintaining social distancing but said “earlier people were scared of coming to the Kumbh” and said after he allayed their fears then 32 lakh came on Mahashivratri, a few days ago. The CM has so far refused to answer any questions on the massive crowds seen at the Kumbh Mela.

When reminded that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians had raised a hue and cry on the Nizamuddin Markaz of the Tablighi Jamaat as being a super spreader. Rawat laughed it off saying there was no comparison and the “Kumbh did not have any outsiders” but “our own pilgrims”. “That time there was no checking, and this time we know who came when. That was a small space, Kumbh is a massive area. This is a matter of ‘astha’ faith”. Around 32 lakh devotees were at Haridwar for the first shahi snan on March 11, Mahashivaratri.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand Police are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to zoom in on those not wearing masks, reported Indian Express, and had installed over 350 CCTV cameras in the mela area, and a 100 of these had AI sensors that will alert the authorities when a person without a mask is spotted. According to the report the alert is relayed to police surveillance control room in Mela Bhawan near Har Ki Pauri “who share the location of the violator to the nearest enforcement teams. The person is handed, besides a free mask, punishment as per rules”. However the videos and photos from the sight show scores without masks in crowded areas. The Kumbh Mela formally started on April 1. According to news reports the Kumbh mela sees a daily average of “over three lakh devotees at the various ghats in Haridwar, but that number is expected to swell during the shahi snans on April 12, 14 and 27”.

Remember Corona Jihad headlines?

It was just a year ago, in March 2020, when the authorities cracked down on the Muslim congregation called, Tablighi Jamaat holding it responsible for the spread of Covid-19 in India. Around 1,000 members of the Jamat had been stranded at its headquarters Nizamuddin Markaz, in Delhi after the sudden declaration of the lockdown. It was identified as a hotspot by the Delhi government and it was reported that many people who attended the congregation had travelled to different parts of the country before the national lockdown could be announced. From here on several conjectures were reached that Covid numbers persons were increasing in the country because the Jamaat members "brought the virus into the country, that there was a controversy to spread the virus in the country and so on." A full blown media trial, government crackdown, arrests etc ensused, as did villification, violence and hate against the muslim community at large.

Eventually the many cases filed against them were, one by one, dismissed by courts either by stating that the majority of them were eventually tested negative, or on the ground that no case was made out against them and they were merely seeking refuge in mosques owing to the suddenly announced nationwide lockdown. A year after 11 state governments also filed 205 FIRs against 2,765 foreign nationals for allegedly violating visa terms and intentionally disregarding Covid-19 guidelines, not one member of the Tablighi Jamaat, a back-to-roots Islamic movement, has been convicted by any court. An analysis of these multiple orders reveals that the Courts have seriously questioned the charges invoked against them, quashing the cases filed against them are slowly emerging.

Recently, Bebaak Collective published a report Communalisation of Covid-19 highlighting that Muslims were quickly equated with the ‘virus’ and the ‘disease’ itself, and feared, hated and contained. The report covers seven states of northern, western and central India documents the synchronised working of the media, police and state authorities as the primary force which allowed for the discrimination, violence and exclusion faced by Muslims during the pandemic. A petition was also filed before the Supreme Court against the communalisation of Covid-19 by the news media, and the narrative that ran with it. The case is pending before the court.

Fast forward to April 2021, even as ‘faith’ takes over Covid-19 protocols AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria has warned that crowded places are “super-spreader events." Guleria, reported Mint has said that “people not adhering to COVID-appropriate behaviour and the circulation of highly infectious strains of SARS-COV-2 could be the primary reasons behind the surge in coronavirus infections in India. He also warned that if the situation is not reversed, then the galloping infection rate will eventually cause a huge strain on the country's healthcare system.” He asked that, "unless it is important, people should not venture out” adding that “it has to be ensured that there is no gathering and stricter enforcement of COVID-appropriate behaviour has to be ensured".

Related:

Maharashtra: MBBS book linking Covid-19 spread with Tablighi Jamaat, recalled
Tablighi Jamaat: Delhi court orders release of passports of acquitted foreign nationals
Covid-19: Gujarat HC says state heading towards a "health emergency”, Gov't stays 
Union Health Minister blames states, citizens for Covid surge

Don’t compare Kumbh Mela to Markaz event: Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat

Covid-19 surge continues with 1,68,912 Covid-19 infections reported on Monday across India, even as lakhs of pilgrims congregating at the Kumbh Mela 2021

Image Courtesy:hindustantimes.com

"Don’t compare Kumbh Mela to Markaz event," said Uttarakhand CM Tirath Singh Rawat in a video interview to Hindustan Times even as images of thick crowds of thousands of devotees, many without masks flooded social media well into Monday.

India has reported a record daily tally of over 1,68,912 Covid-19 infections by Monday. According to multiple reports this may grow and fuel yet another spike. According to the BBC, India now accounts for one in every six daily infections worldwide and has overtaken Brazil, on Monday with an overall tally of 13.53 million cases. Second only to the United States, which has a total of 31.2 million cases. 

https://lh6.googleusercontent.com/EsOwu5yOyhZNDM5ZCSgFYXbaUd45iod53Kwm2WpKo5kInAKTZi1jIFIPNaKOEDpGcARsmPBhmalam45arTUbFjWghA76xYrgQGokcC34cxnjd85_-oukyZZRE9g_HeRzzwqRa1ZM

Even as state elections continue in West Bengal, the next state in focus is Uttarakhand where the Kumbh Mela, one of the biggest religious gatherings in the world, is in full swing. In Uttarakhand's Haridwar, lakhs of devotees are converging on the banks of the Ganga for a holy dip. The invite to them seems to have come from none other than the state’s Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat, who himself has recently recovered from Covid-19. Rawat has been sharing the importance of the mela encouraging people to “bathe the Ganges in Kumbh,” adding that they must follow Covid-19 guidelines and SOPs. 

However, Covid-19 prevention guidelines include adequate social distancing, and wearing appropriate masks. None of those are being followed here as the many visuals have shown. People are growing in processions, at ghats often without masks. In the water, masks are not helpful anyway. 

The state authorities say they have made virus tests mandatory for those entering its borders, however social distancing is not even a thought here. In the last 24 hours only over a thousand cases have been detected, however it is not known yet if tests were also carried out near the mela site, as well, as the rule said a Covid-19 negative certificate was mandatory.

https://lh4.googleusercontent.com/FXxJuLse_WsrjHhCnMOr0_QR42_EN_sLf1Bj56k-X-2MxGn2-6L8lUjHRuvoHOdYRy_yAUsEH8Q2iTOqLxikO85meq8JyO0VCZjK1xNmqODuTwFmQPropW_MF6lx4-uvAxOmZ3ta

The CM has claimed the state is well prepared, he says Kumbh is connected with not just India but the world, and people wait for 12 years making a vow to take the holy dip. He told the Hindustan Times that when he took over “Covid-19 was near zero” and hence the state organised a grand welcome for those coming for the Kumbh with flower showers from helicopters and other elaborate preparations. He said “masks and sanitizers” have been arranged at the state borders and maintained that his state is following the Centre’s Covid-19 prevention guidelines of masks and sanitizers. On social distancing he said “we will make efforts”. However, Rawat was unable to explain what the state government’s plan was on maintaining social distancing but said “earlier people were scared of coming to the Kumbh” and said after he allayed their fears then 32 lakh came on Mahashivratri, a few days ago. The CM has so far refused to answer any questions on the massive crowds seen at the Kumbh Mela.

When reminded that Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) politicians had raised a hue and cry on the Nizamuddin Markaz of the Tablighi Jamaat as being a super spreader. Rawat laughed it off saying there was no comparison and the “Kumbh did not have any outsiders” but “our own pilgrims”. “That time there was no checking, and this time we know who came when. That was a small space, Kumbh is a massive area. This is a matter of ‘astha’ faith”. Around 32 lakh devotees were at Haridwar for the first shahi snan on March 11, Mahashivaratri.

Meanwhile, the Uttarakhand Police are using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to zoom in on those not wearing masks, reported Indian Express, and had installed over 350 CCTV cameras in the mela area, and a 100 of these had AI sensors that will alert the authorities when a person without a mask is spotted. According to the report the alert is relayed to police surveillance control room in Mela Bhawan near Har Ki Pauri “who share the location of the violator to the nearest enforcement teams. The person is handed, besides a free mask, punishment as per rules”. However the videos and photos from the sight show scores without masks in crowded areas. The Kumbh Mela formally started on April 1. According to news reports the Kumbh mela sees a daily average of “over three lakh devotees at the various ghats in Haridwar, but that number is expected to swell during the shahi snans on April 12, 14 and 27”.

Remember Corona Jihad headlines?

It was just a year ago, in March 2020, when the authorities cracked down on the Muslim congregation called, Tablighi Jamaat holding it responsible for the spread of Covid-19 in India. Around 1,000 members of the Jamat had been stranded at its headquarters Nizamuddin Markaz, in Delhi after the sudden declaration of the lockdown. It was identified as a hotspot by the Delhi government and it was reported that many people who attended the congregation had travelled to different parts of the country before the national lockdown could be announced. From here on several conjectures were reached that Covid numbers persons were increasing in the country because the Jamaat members "brought the virus into the country, that there was a controversy to spread the virus in the country and so on." A full blown media trial, government crackdown, arrests etc ensused, as did villification, violence and hate against the muslim community at large.

Eventually the many cases filed against them were, one by one, dismissed by courts either by stating that the majority of them were eventually tested negative, or on the ground that no case was made out against them and they were merely seeking refuge in mosques owing to the suddenly announced nationwide lockdown. A year after 11 state governments also filed 205 FIRs against 2,765 foreign nationals for allegedly violating visa terms and intentionally disregarding Covid-19 guidelines, not one member of the Tablighi Jamaat, a back-to-roots Islamic movement, has been convicted by any court. An analysis of these multiple orders reveals that the Courts have seriously questioned the charges invoked against them, quashing the cases filed against them are slowly emerging.

Recently, Bebaak Collective published a report Communalisation of Covid-19 highlighting that Muslims were quickly equated with the ‘virus’ and the ‘disease’ itself, and feared, hated and contained. The report covers seven states of northern, western and central India documents the synchronised working of the media, police and state authorities as the primary force which allowed for the discrimination, violence and exclusion faced by Muslims during the pandemic. A petition was also filed before the Supreme Court against the communalisation of Covid-19 by the news media, and the narrative that ran with it. The case is pending before the court.

Fast forward to April 2021, even as ‘faith’ takes over Covid-19 protocols AIIMS Director Dr Randeep Guleria has warned that crowded places are “super-spreader events." Guleria, reported Mint has said that “people not adhering to COVID-appropriate behaviour and the circulation of highly infectious strains of SARS-COV-2 could be the primary reasons behind the surge in coronavirus infections in India. He also warned that if the situation is not reversed, then the galloping infection rate will eventually cause a huge strain on the country's healthcare system.” He asked that, "unless it is important, people should not venture out” adding that “it has to be ensured that there is no gathering and stricter enforcement of COVID-appropriate behaviour has to be ensured".

Related:

Maharashtra: MBBS book linking Covid-19 spread with Tablighi Jamaat, recalled
Tablighi Jamaat: Delhi court orders release of passports of acquitted foreign nationals
Covid-19: Gujarat HC says state heading towards a "health emergency”, Gov't stays 
Union Health Minister blames states, citizens for Covid surge

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