States wary of crowds, major shrines to stay shut for now | India News

Jun 1, 2020

NEW DELHI: A day after the Union home ministry’s “Unlock 1” plan provided the green signal for places of worship to reopen on June 8, Uttarakhand was the only state to officially spell out on Sunday that all major religious destinations like Haridwar and Char Dham would open their doors after a week but restrict entry to the local population for a start.
“We will chalk out how many people can be allowed inside each temple every day and other security measures later in the week,” Haridwar MLA Madan Kaushik said. In Bengal, churches and gurdwaras have been allowed to reopen from Monday with not more than 10 people inside at a time. A directive on temples and mosques will be issued later, officials said. Most large places of worship across the country are likely to remain shut for longer — either voluntarily or because of state-specific measures overriding the central unlock plan — even as some have tentatively announced they will reopen on June 8 without waiting for the respective governments to specify the way forward.
In Maharashtra, the Shirdi and Siddhivinayak temples and Mumbai’s Haji Ali Dargah waited all day for word on whether they would be allowed to reopen before the state government came out with a “Mission Begin Again” strategy that does not include places of worship for now. Assam’s ancient Kamakhya temple decided on Saturday itself to remain closed till July, irrespective of the state government’s call on the Centre’s guidelines. Puri’s Jagannath temple, shut since March 20, won’t reopen before July either, which effectively means the annual Rath Yatra that draws lakhs of devotees will be an unusually quiet affair this year.
In AP, the state government’s decision to reopen or keep the Tirumala and Tirupati temples closed won’t be known until next Thursday, said a senior official in Hyderabad. Gujarat will decide on reopening major places of worship only after receiving a detailed SOP from the Centre, deputy CM Nitin Patel said.

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