NEW DELHI: Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) MPs, mayors and other leaders on Wednesday led a group of Chhath devotees to the banks of the river Yamuna defying the Delhi Disaster Management Authority’s (DDMA) ban on performing the rituals near the river. A large number of devotees were also seen violating the ban across the city by reaching the river’s ghats to perform the rituals.
Senior BJP leader and Northeast Delhi MP Manoj Tiwari, along with a group of devotees, reached the Sonia Vihar ghat to pay respects to the setting sun. The group could be seen standing in knee-deep water here performing Chhath rituals.
The four-day festival that started on November 8 will culminate on early Thursday morning when devotees will take a dip in the water with the rising sun. According to officials in the Delhi government, Tiwari defied the ban despite being stopped by the district administration.
“The BJP MP surpassed the civil defence volunteers on duty as well as the police and the area SDM to reach the river and perform the rituals. Breaching a ban can lead to action against the MP,” said a senior official, who didn’t wish to be named.
Pravesh Verma, BJP MP from West Delhi, who had vowed to defy the ban earlier this week, reached the ITO ghat of the Yamuna and performed Chhath rituals there. He invited devotees coming over to the ghat, which also had artificial ponds dug up by the Delhi government for observing Chhath, to instead come to the banks of the river to do the rituals. Hitting out at CM Arvind Kejriwal, the MP alleged that the CM was not concerned about the sentiments of the Purvanchalis.
On September 30, the DDMA banned Chhath celebrations in public. Following this, Deputy CM Manish Sisodia wrote to the Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya on October 12, urging the Centre to issue festival guidelines following consultation with health experts. CM Kejriwal also wrote to the L-Gs, to allow the Purvanchalis to celebrate Chhath with Covid protocol. In an October 28 order, the DDMA allowed Chhath celebrations in public at “designated places”, however, directing that celebrations should not be held along the river banks.