The pilgrimage is undertaken by devotees of Hindu deity Shiva. They collect water, usually from the river Ganga, and offer it at Shiva temples in their respective states. These devotees, called Kanwariyas, cover hundreds of kilometres on foot.
The Uttarakhand government had on Tuesday cancelled the Kanwar Yatra amid fears of a possible third wave of the Covid-19 health crisis. But, Uttar Pradesh Additional Director General (Law and Order) Prashant Kumar told The Indian Express that the state will hold the pilgrimage between July 25 to August 6.
On Wednesday, a Supreme Court bench, led by Justice RF Nariman, sent a notice to the central and the Uttar Pradesh government. The case will be taken up on Friday.
The court said that it took up the matter after reading a report on The Indian Express about the Uttar Pradesh government’s decision to hold the Kanwar Yatra even though Uttarakhand had cancelled it, reported Live Law.
“We are a little disturbed given today’s headline in The Indian Express about the Kanwar yatra which is likely to be held from July 25,” the court said. “Given the disparate stances, it is important that the Home Secretary, Union of India respond to this news report. Given the fact that this yatra is to take off from 25th July it is necessary to fix a short time table.”
The court also directed the principal secretaries of Uttar Pradesh and Uttarakhand to file affidavits explaining their position in the matter.
“The citizens of India are completely perplexed,” the bench said, according to NDTV. “They do not know what is going on. And all this as the prime minister, when asked about the third wave of Covid-19, said we cannot compromise even one bit.”
A spokesperson for the Uttar Pradesh government on Tuesday said that Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Adityanath stated that only a few devotees should be allowed to participate in the pilgrimage. The official added that the government might make negative RT-PCR tests reports mandatory for participation in the pilgrimage.
On Tuesday, the health ministry said that Indians were taking warnings about the third wave of the coronavirus pandemic casually and treating them like mere weather updates. At his meeting with the chief ministers of northeastern states, Prime Minister Narendra Modi also expressed concern about the violation of safety norms in the country.