State DGP Ashok Kumar held a meeting with police officers yesterday.
The Uttarakhand government is preparing to ‘respectfully’ handle the kanwariyas who might enter the state as Uttar Pradesh decided to go ahead with the Kanwar Yatra. The state government is preparing a Standard Operating Procedure (SOP) to handle the pilgrims from Uttar Pradesh who enter the state boundaries. Notably, Uttarakhand has suspended kanwar yatra this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
State DGP Ashok Kumar held a meeting with police officers yesterday. He said that police personnel will be deployed on Uttarakhand borders and kanwar enforcement teams will be constituted in every district. The yatra will commence from July 25. The enforcement teams will patrol the routes traditionally taken by the pilgrims.
Kumar said that if any kanwariya is spotted in the state, he would be respectfully dropped back to the state borders and if someone is found near any holy site, he would be taken to the nearest temple to offer prayers and then dropped on the border.
DIG (Law and Order) Nilesh Anand Bharne said that the state government will also ensure that kanwariyas don’t arrive by trains. For this, trains will be halted before Haridwar for checking. If pilgrims are found, they will be deboarded and taken to the nearest state border.
All districts in Uttarakhand will also draw up their separate SOPs for enforcement of the ban on the kanwar yatra. The state government is also considering a 14-day quarantine period for any kanwariya entering Haridwar.
In 2019, Uttarakhand had witnessed a footfall of around 3.5 crore kanwariyas.
The state’s ban on the kanwar yatra comes after it was subjected to wide criticism for allowing the Kumbh Mela, which led to a spurt in COVID-19 cases. “We decided to cancel the yatra, according topmost priority to human life,” Uttarakhand CM Pushkar Singh Dhami told mediapersons on Tuesday while announcing the state government’s decision to cancel the Kanwar Yatra this year.
The decision by the Uttar Pradesh government to go ahead with the Kanwar Yatra this year despite Uttarakhand cancelling it also caught the eye of the Supreme Court. Taking suo motu cognisance of a report by The Indian Express, the top court issued notices to the central and state governments asking them to file affidavits in response to the news report by July 16. The matter is set to be heard in a short while from now.