On Thursday (April 15), the Panchayati Niranjani Akhada has announced that the Kumbh Mela will be concluded by April 17. The decision came at the backdrop of rising cases of Coronavirus in Haridwar.
While speaking to News 24, Ravindra Puri Maharaj of the Panchayati Niranjani Akhada informed, “This is the time of the pandemic. We have taken a decision and has asked the Sadhus from Gujarat, Maharashtra and other parts of India, who had come here, to return to their respective villages. The condition of Haridwar is worsening. Only a handful of Sadhus will take part in the April 27 snan. We have requested everyone to go back.”
He further added, “The decision has been taken due to the drastic rise of Coronavirus cases. We want all of us to be safe. This will help us to adhere to the social distancing guidelines.” On being asked whether this is a personal decision or fuelled by any external pressure, Ravindra Puri Maharaj clarified, “We are under no pressure. This is also not a personal matter. This is a society issue, for the people at large. We have taken the decision for the well-being of people.” He however emphasised that about 50 sadhus, belonging to the Panchayati Niranjani Akhada, will participate in the April 27 snan
Fourth Shahi Snan scheduled on April 27
It must be mentioned that the itinerary of Kumbh Mela includes 4 ‘shahi snan’ and 9 ‘Ganga snan.’ The fourth ‘shahi snan’ will be conducted on April 27. Reportedly, a total of 2,167 people were diagnosed with Coronavirus in the past 5 days. This is despite the fact that a Covid-19 negative RT-PCR report, not more than 72 hours prior to arrival, was made mandatory for attending the festival. The turnout of devotees was also less compared to the preceding years.
Although Kumbh Mela is a four-month-long event, it was cut short to 1 month due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Keeping in mind the rising cases of Coronavirus, the Panchayati Niranjani Akhada had asked Sadhus to leave Haridwar and conclude the festival within 17 days. The awareness about the fatal consequences of the pandemic, as exhibited by Ravindra Puri Maharaj, stands in direct contrast to that of Maulana Saad, who is of the Tablighi Jammat at Nizamuddin Markaz.
Maulana Saad instigated Muslims to fill up mosques amidst the pandemic
In an audio clip leaked on social media, Tablighi Jamaat chief Maulana Saad could be heard mocking the government’s call to close mosques and other religious places in a bid to contain the spread of Chinese Coronavirus. The audio was recorded at the Nizamuddin Markaz on 23 March, 2020, one day after the Janta Curfew was observed and a day before the country-wide lockdown was announced.
Maulana Saad, while instigating Muslims gathered at Nizamuddin Markaz, had asked to defy the lockdown orders said that it was the time to go to mosques. At around 5 minutes into the video, he said, “This is the time to fill the mosques. I have been saying this since the beginning that this is the time to fill up the mosques. Do not get swayed by the calls to vacate the mosques. In fact, it is time to increase the count of people in mosques.”
At around 8 minutes into the video, Saad said, “Those who have no faith in Allah, through these schemes and excuses of trying to save Muslims from the disease are trying to keep us away. They have found an excuse to keep Muslims away from coming here. They want to put this fear in the Muslims that those who gather in huge numbers can get infected. The disease will pass but the fear will not.”
The Delhi Police Crime Branch had also recorded the statement of over 166 Tablighi Jamaat members in May last year who were present in the Nizamuddin Markaz even. ABP News reported that during the interrogation, most of them made the revelation that they wanted to leave Markaz but Maulana Saad had stopped them. The report also claimed that the Crime Branch had revealed that according to the evidence they had gathered it divulges that the Jamaatis were intentionally made to stay in Nizamuddin Markaz despite the notice from police.