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Millions of people gathered on the banks of River Ganga, one of the world’s largest religious gatherings at Haridwar for Maha Kumbh Mela, amid the spread of coronavirus.

India is witnessing the most severe COVID-19 outbreak since the pandemic began. Despite the second way of coronavirus in the country the Central and State government did not say no to the week-long Hindu Festival, the Maha Kumbh held once in 12 years.

Photos and videos from the Maha Kumbh show the disregard of physical distancing. Not even half of the population is wearing a mask. Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat has been an active participant of the mela has captured with a mask around his neck instead of his face. In favor of Maha Kumbh Rawat said that no one should do rok-tok (restrictions), the mela is ‘open for all'. CM Tirath had famously said, “Nobody will be stopped in the name of COVID-19, and the faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.”

Many national daily newspapers, published full-page advertisements of CM Rawat and PM Narendra Modi, welcoming people to attend the MahaKumbh and telling them it is ‘clean’ and ‘safe’ to attend.

As per reports, Uttarakhand Police is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology to keep an eye on the violation of COVID-19 protocols. According to police officials, the AI cameras will zoom in, zoom out, and will capture photographs of the faces without masks. Around 350 cameras are installed on the ghats of Haridwar out of which more than 100 are equipped with AI sensors.

India is already reporting an increase in the cases of coronavirus. Currently, there are 2,056 active cases and 386 people tested positive on a single day in Haridwar. There were three main days of Kumbh Mela, known as ‘Shahi Snan’ (Royal Bath) on April 12, 14, and 27. The authorities at present are unwilling to stop the crowding these days. It is mandatory to carry COVID negative report, but it is being alleged that there is no such arrangement to ensure devotees safety.

In fact, the Indian Railways has organized 25 special trains on these three days linking to Haridwar from different destinations.

Also Read: Delhi weekend curfew: Here’s list to what’s allowed and what’s not

Now several questions have been raised on the Central Government for not ensuring the safety of the devotees. It is visible that COVID-19 norms are not followed in Haridwar, instead, there is a huge spike of coronavirus in India. And if the events like this will continue the Kumbh Mela will turn into the ‘super-spreaders’ of the coronavirus.

This lack of concern can be compared to the government’s handling of the case of Nizzamudin Markaz of the Tablighi Jammat in New Delhi, last year. The event was attended by about 3,500 people and was organized before any kind of restrictions was imposed by the government on public gathering.

Overnight, the Tablighi Jammat was painted as the main cause of the spread of this novel virus in India by both Big Media Houses and the Modi Government. The media houses broadcasted the news with a headline, ‘corona jihad’.

A year later, India’s COVID situation is much worst than it was during the time of Jammat. And it is a much, much more large religious event with government support.

The Chief Minister of Uttarakhand, Rawat said that “The Kumbh Mela shouldn’t be compared to the Markaz because now people know that they have to sanitize their hands and wear masks.”

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