Hindu religious figures criticise linking Kumbh Mela with COVID-19 spread
New Delhi, May 19: Several prominent Hindu religious figures on Wednesday criticised attempts to link the recent Kumbh Mela in Haridwar with the spread of COVID-19, saying it is an "insult" to people's faith and traditions.
They also claimed that Uttarakhand did not witness much of a rise in the infections at the time of the festival. Though the seers did not name any political party, their comments came a day after the BJP accused the Congress of preparing a 'toolkit' to target the Modi government over the second wave of the pandemic and linking the decision to hold the Kumbh with the surge.
The Congress has rejected the charge and lodged a police complaint against senior BJP leaders, accusing them of attributing "fake" documents to it.
"This is a big conspiracy to insult Kumbh Mela and the ancient Hindu religion by preparing such a toolkit. This is a big crime. They should stop insulting over 100 crore Hindus, and people should boycott and oppose such anti-Hindu, anti-India forces," yoga guru Ramdev said in a message.
Swami Avdheshanand Giri of Juna Akhara said Kumbh symbolises India's values, culture and its sensibilities, and that attempts to link it with the COVID-19 surge are an attack on them. This shows petty-mindedness of people behind it, he added.
Avdheshanand claimed that statistics showed Uttarakhand, which had hosted the Kumbh, had not seen a spike in COVID-19 numbers when it was held, while the tally rose in other states. The event was largely held symbolically after Prime Minister Narendra Modi made a request, he said.
Amid a COVID-19 surge in the country, Modi had spoken to Avdheshanand on April 17 while Kumbh was underway. The PM had urged him to ensure that there was only a symbolic participation.
"We seers strongly condemn this disinformation campaign against Kumbh. Doing such politics is not good," Avdheshanand said.
Another religious figure, Swami Kailashanand Giri, said it was unfortunate that people were linking Kumbh to the pandemic surge. Usually people in crores attend the holy congregation but they did not come even in lakhs this time, and the entire exercise was mostly symbolic, he added.