DEHRADUN: At least 50 sadhus from various religious akhadas, who are camping in Haridwar for the Mahakumbh, have tested positive for Covid on Friday.
The seers who tested positive include Mahant Ravindra Puri, secretary of Niranjani Akhada. On Thursday, Puri announced that the akhada will consider the closure of the mega event on April 17 from their side.
However, voices of the dispute have emerged from religious leaders of the 13 akhadas as well as a disciple of Shankaracharya.
Swami Avimukteshwaranand, the disciple of Shankaracharya Swami Swaroopanand Saraswati, said, "There is no question of the Kumbh ending before the decided date (April 30). The Mahakumbh is not something that you pull out of your pocket and then put back as you please. This is an event that is based on astrological calculations. Covid behaviour will be followed while the Kumbh goes on."
President of Nirmohi Akhada, Rajendra Das, warned that his akhada will break away from Akhada Parishad. "Any announcement of concluding the Mahakumbh before the date is unacceptable. Those who said such things are the ones who are responsible for the spread of Covid 19 the most. They should apologize for their behaviour and statement," added Das.
On Thursday, the secretary of Niranjani akhada Ravindra Puri announced that given the Covid situation the akhada have decided to announce the conclusion of the mega event on April 17.
However, the final decision will be taken by Akhada Parishad, the apex body of 13 akhadas.
The president of the Akhara Parishad Mahant Narendra Giri is battling Covid and has been admitted to All India Institute of Medical Sciences, Rishikesh. Interestingly, Giri is also associated with the Niranjani Akhara.
Commenting on the issue, Subodh Uniyal, state cabinet minister and spokesperson for the government said, "The decision to announce conclusion by an akhada is the decision of that particular akhada. The government has nothing to do with it. But we are keeping an eye on the situation and if the need arises decision will be taken to save lives."
The number of cases in the mela area reached over 2,800. Officials in charge of the mela area said that more than 1.2 lakh tests have been conducted in the Kumbh mela area to date.
Total 2,838 cases were detected in six days -- from April 10 to April 16 -- in the mela area. With a positivity rate of around 2%, 339 cases were detected on April 16, 332 cases on April 15, 525 cases on April 14, 594 on April 13, 408 on April 12, 386 on April 11, and 254 on April 10 in the mela area.
Meanwhile, sadhus from camps of all 13 akhadas have started leaving the mela area given the pandemic situation and important Shahi Snan events have concluded without any hassle.
"Seers and saints are leaving as most important Shah Snan events have been attended by all of them. However, there are chances that many of them will come back for the last Shahi Snan of April 27," said a member of one of the 13 akhadas.