Uttarakhand government reportedly cancels this year’s Kanwar Yatra due to COVID-19 pandemic


The Uttarakhand government has reportedly cancelled this year’s Kanwar Yatra due to COVID-19 pandemic, reported news agency PTI quoting sources.

Kanwar Yatra

The news comes just days after Chief Minister Pushkar Singh Dhami said that his government’s first priority was to save human lives. “Our first priority is that people’s life is not in danger, that their life remains safe. That means no one should die,” he was quoted by Indian Express as saying.

Earlier, the IMA Uttarakhand State Secretary Dr. Ajay Khanna had urged the BJP government to cancel the annual event in view of the pandemic. He had said in a statement, “I request you to disallow the coming proposed Kanwar Yatra in July – August 2021… We should not allow devotees to enter the boundaries of our state and keep the state safe from the third wave of COVID.”

This year’s Kumbh Mela, which was attended by at least 10 million Hindus in Uttarakhand’s Haridwar, had acted as a superspreader in triggering the second wave of the pandemic. Hundreds of thousands of people had lost their lives. The BJP had to face widespread condemnation as families struggled to find hospital beds and places to perform last rites for their loved ones.

More than 30 million (three crores) Hindus were expected to travel to Uttarakhand as part of their annual ritual. Experts had warned that Kanwar Yatra had the potential to cause the third wave of the pandemic since Hindus walked in close groups as part of their religious rituals.