The Uttar Pradesh government said the Yatra, slated to begin July 25, had been cancelled following its appeal to Kanwar organisations, a day after the Supreme Court requested it to review its decision to allow even a symbolic Kanwar Yatra during the Covid-19 outbreak.
On July 19, the Supreme Court was scheduled to hear the case.
Following the Supreme Court’s suo motu cognizance of the matter, UP Additional Chief Secretary (Information) Navneet Sehgal said on Saturday night that the state government made an appeal to Kanwar associations in the state, and they all agreed to call off the Yatra this year as well — a similar appeal last year, following the outbreak of the pandemic, had resulted in the cancellation of the Yatra.
“All the Kanwar associations across the state have unanimously decided to call off the Yatra,” stated Awanish Kumar Awasthi, Additional Chief Secretary (Home).
After being told by the Supreme Court to reconsider, UP claims Kanwar organizations have called off their Yatra. The Supreme Court took suo motu notice of stories in The Indian Express about the Prime Minister’s statements and the state of Uttar Pradesh’s decision to authorize the Yatra.
The Supreme Court bench of Justices R F Nariman and B R Gavai, which had taken suo motu cognizance of a report in The Indian Express on UP’s decision to allow the Kanwar Yatra, asked the state to reconsider on Friday, saying that “the health of the citizenry of India and their right to ‘life’ are paramount,” and that “all other sentiments, albeit religious,” are “subservient to this most basic fundamental right.”
Senior Advocate C S Vaidyanathan, who represented the UP government, told the court that the state will only undertake a “symbolic physical” Kanwar Yatra to honor religious sensibilities.
“The state of Uttar Pradesh cannot go forward with it 100 percent,” Justice Nariman informed Vaidyanathan. Either we pass the commands directly to you or we offer you one more chance to reconsider physically holding the yatra. We are all affected by the pandemic. We are all Indian citizens. Article 21 applies to all of us, hence this is a suo motu matter. Its purpose is to keep us all safe.”