PRAYAGRAJ: The Allahabad high court dismissed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) seeking a limit on the number of devotees during the Magh Mela in Prayagraj to prevent the spread of Covid-19, after the state government notified it of its readiness and measures to limit the number of people in one spot. Previously, this PIL was filed with the high court, demanding that it direct the state government to limit the number of devotees who will take the sacred dip in the Ganga at this year's Magh Mela in Prayagraj.
During the course of hearing, assistant advocate general Manish Goyal, who represented the state government, stated that the government has already set instructions for devotees who come to the Magh Mela to follow.
He further stated that a separate Prayagraj Mela Authority has been established to oversee all arrangements and prevent crowds from congregating in one location. Furthermore, in order to urge people to take all measures and not cause a rush in Mela places, they will release public notifications through various modes of communication informing devotees and prospective devotees about the government's limits and recommendations for the purpose.
In its judgement dated January 25, a division bench comprised of Chief Justice Rajesh Bindal and Justice Piyush Agrawal disposed of the PIL filed by one Utkarsh Mishra and others, saying that in light of the position taken by respondent – Uttar Pradesh government, this case stands disposed of.
According to the PIL, which was filed by Utkarsh Mishra and others, religious groups were proven to be responsible for spreading the fatal virus across the country in the previous two years. In light of the circumstances, the PIL sought a court order limiting participation in the Magh Mela, the world's largest religious gathering.
According to the PIL, only seers of 'akharas' should be allowed to take the holy bath on the dates of the Shahi Snan in order to avoid a large turnout of devotees, which is expected on those auspicious dates. It was also suggested that RT-PCR examinations be made mandatory for visiting devotees upon their arrival.
It was also claimed that the Haridwar Kumbh Mela, conducted during the peak of the second wave of the Covid-19 pandemic, resulted in a large number of infections and was thus voluntarily cancelled by the seers of several 'akharas.'
According to the petition, pilgrims who returned to their home towns after visiting the Kumbh in Haridwar were discovered to be super-spreaders. "Holding such a large-scale event in the aftermath of the Covid-19 third wave puts the citizens of Prayagraj as well as the state of Uttar Pradesh in unwarranted danger. Furthermore, the Magh Mela event is of significant religious value, and all preparations such as putting up camps, electricity, water, and sanitation have already been completed; cancelling this religious event at this time is not desired," it was claimed in PIL.