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The Superspreader: Kumbh Mela sees rising cases as COVID protocols go for a toss

Had it been any other religious gathering, would the Modi government & Media react the same way?
 
This is not a good time for any one of us. The world is still grappling with the Coronavirus pandemic that has hit us hard with an unprecedented second wave. India with over 1,000 new cases, has overtaken Brazil and become the country with the second-highest COVID-19 cases after America. And while many states have gone into partial lockdowns with stricter curfews, it seems like Haridwar in Uttarakhand belongs to some other world altogether. 
 
Why? Because of the once-in-every-twelve-year Hindu festival, Kumbh Mela. Har Ki Pauri is hosting over 21 lakh devotees and followers who have gathered to take a dip in the holy Ganga amidst rising cases across India. Many ash-smeared nagas and saffron-clad sadhus are taking part in the ‘Shahi Snan’ in and around the Kumbh Mela.
 
Needless to say, social distancing is a joke with all the devotees flouting all other COVID-19 guidelines. While Uttrakhand itself has tallied 1,08,812 cases, police officials are saying that it is difficult to look after the adherence of protocols because of the crowding. 
 
Due to the huge crowd, it is practically not possible to issue challans, say officials, who are unable to impose stringent COVID protocols. “It is very difficult to ensure social distancing at ghats. A stampede-like situation may arise if we would try to enforce social distancing at ghats, so we are unable to enforce social distancing here,” they say. 
 
If it doesn’t, a few people on Twitter are talking about another famous religious congregation from last year- The Tablighi Jamaat. The deafening silence by the Government of India and a major section of the media has reignited the debate about Tablighi Jamaat congregation that received a lot of flak last year around the same time. Twitter is not only debating the gross negligence at the Kumbh but also calling out the media, those who made monsters out of the Jamaat members, for not speaking enough now. 
 
Especially, after we demonized an entire religion and branded them as ‘superspreaders’ with court cases and societal alienation. Those who are saying that it is not the same, the Mela and the Jamaat, you are damn right; it is not the same. Like a Twitter user pointed out, we didn’t know better then. 
 
Today, we do and with a lot more cases and some. It is clear how the Modi government and a section of media is clearly and conveniently brushing aside the Kumbh and its connection to the rising COVID cases. But, there is also an opinion among citizens that how long can the Modi government fool people and lay the blame on one religion while neglecting how India’s healthcare infrastructure and situation is worse than where we were last year. 
 
TBA Tip:
Stay safe and wear your mask. Please do not venture out until it is absolutely necessary. 
 

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