One priest and 14 policemen on duty at Ayodhya’s Ram temple site, where the “bhoomi pujan” is slated to be conducted on 5 August, have tested positive for COVID-19, reported PTI.
Who All Have Tested Positive?
According to NDTV, Pradeep Das, assistant to the chief priest, has said that he has tested positive for COVID-19. Policemen on security duty at the Ram Janmabhoomi complex have also reportedly tested positive.
Other four priests at the site, however, have tested negative, reported NDTV. Another 12 people who were in close proximity to the priests have reportedly tested negative as well.
The Risks Involved
Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath had, on Saturday, 25 July, offered prayers at the site of the Ram Temple in Ayodhya and took stock of preparations for the ground-breaking ceremony.
Visuals from that day, as reported by NDTV, show Pradeep Das, the COVID-19 positive priest, standing next to CM Yogi Adityanath during one ritual. He was also reportedly spotted standing next to chief priest Stayendra Das. Das will be the head-priestfor the 5 August ceremony.
What Does This Mean for the Event?
The programme, planned to resemble Diwali celebrations, is still on. The Trust set up to build the temple reportedly said that all safety rules will be adhered to.
A group of 11 priests will be performing the rituals, reported PTI, and Pradeep Das is not part of this group.
Mahant Kamal Narayan Das, successor designate of the chairman of the trust, told PTI:
“There is nothing to worry about. One of the priests who performs daily rituals at the temple site has tested positive. The entire campus will be sanitised on a routine basis.”
The celebrations are expected to begin on 3 August and end on 5 August. Giant CCTV screens have reportedly also been placed across Ayodhya for devotees to watch the programme.
Who All Will Be Attending?
A total of approximately 200 people will be present for the ceremony at the Janmabhoomi complex.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi is slated to join the programme. A helipad, three kilometres from the site, has reportedly been set up specially for that purpose.
All senior BJP associates have been invited, including veterans like Lal Krishna Advani and Murali Manoha Joshi, and senior leaders like Umar Bharti, Vinay Katiyar and Sadhvi Ritambhara, reported NDTV.
Rashrtiya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat, along with other seniors from the organisation, are also expected to be joining in.
Others have also been asked to tune into the live telecast of the ceremony and stay home and light earthen lamps in the evening, reported PTI.
The COVID-19 Tally
According to the Health Ministry, the total number of COVID-19 cases in India has now increased to 15,83,792. This includes 5,28,242 active cases, 10,20,582 recovered/discharged, and 34,968 deaths.
(With inputs from PTI and NDTV.)