On Thursday, 1 April, the first day of the Kumbh Mela in Haridwar, the Bairagi seers of Nirmohi Akhada allegedly manhandled additional Mela officer Harbeer Singh and a security personnel accompanying him for mismanaging the Bairagi camp.
As per eyewitnesses, a few seers attacked Singh and when the security guard intervened, he was also beaten up. The officer sustained minor injuries and the guard fainted at the spot.
“A mela official was pushed amid a huge crowd and his glasses broke,” Inspector-General of the mela force Sanjay Gunjiyal told news agency ANI.
A day later, Singh visited the Bairagi camp where the Akhada seers welcomed and garlanded him in a move to bury the dispute that had emerged the previous day.
However, Gunjiyal expressed disdain over the Akhada seers’ treatment of Singh. A probe has also been launched into the incident.
“Akhada Parishad has also condemned the behaviour of seers at Bairagi camp. Entry has been made in the general diary and the matter is being investigated. Due legal action will be taken,” Gunjiyal said, Hindustan Times reported.
Organised amid a pandemic, and surge in the number of infections reported in the country, around 300 cases of COVID-19 have been found in Haridwar in in the last few days, as per Kumbh Mela health officer Dr Arjun Singh Senger.
As many as seven saints at the Krishna Ashram located in Shankaracharya Chowk have tested positive for the virus, Zee News reported. All saints are under isolation.
However, Uttarakhand Chief Minister Tirath Singh Rawat had earlier flouted the risk of holding the mela amid the health emergency, insisting “faith is stronger than fear”, and saying that “religious sentiments needed to be given priority” over health concerns.
(With inputs from ANI, Hindustan Times, Financial Times and Zee News)