The point is, of course, not to encourage bigotry or hatred directed towards the millions of people who have congregated on the banks of the Ganga for the Kumbh but to point out the blatant double standards—and the utter lack of accountability from the authorities.

In the Tablighi Jamaat incident, it was clear that the government had failed to dissipate a gathering that eventually became a hotpsot and then proceeded to make things worse by stigmatising the disease and making Indians afraid about getting tested.

In the case of the Kumbh, the dangers are much more obvious.

As new variants are ripping through states around the country, with patients filling up hospitals and crematoriums struggling to handle the numbers of dead, the Uttarakhand government did not just fail to take action limiting numbers at the Hindu festival—it actively encouraged people to come and told them not to worry about Covid-19 restrictions.

This was what Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat said on March 20:

“I invite all devotees across the world to come to Haridwar and take a holy dip in the Ganga during Mahakumbh. Nobody will be stopped in the name of Covid-19 as we are sure the faith in God will overcome the fear of the virus.”

While claiming that all Central guidelines would be followed and that only those with a negative RT-PCR would be allowed to come, Rawat repeatedly said there would be no “rok-tok” or obstacles. “There is no strictness,” he said. “But Covid-19 guidelines should be followed… It’s open for everyone.”

Rawat, who contracted Covid-19 just days after insisting that faith would overcome fear, has insisted that the Kumbh should not be compared to the Tablighi Jamaat gathering.

This piece was originally published on We welcome your comments at

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