The Uttar Pradesh government is taking measures to prohibit sale of meat in the open along the routes fixed for Kanwar Yatra, which will take place after a gap of two years. The local, district and police administration are reaching out to meat traders to ensure this, officials said. Elaborate arrangements are being made for Kanwar Yatra which is set to begin from July 14. It will continue for a fortnight. The yatra was not held in 2020 and 2021 due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
'Kanwariyas', devotees of Lord Shiva, travel to the banks of the river Ganga to fetch water which they carry to offer in temples at their homes or localities. Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, at a recent meeting, directed officials to clear the roads taken by the Kanwar yatris and to prohibit sale of meat in the open along them, besides making arrangements for lighting, sanitation and first-aid. Additional Chief Secretary (Home) Awanish Awasthi said, "All efforts are being made to ensure that Kanwar Yatra is held in a safe and peaceful manner across the state while adhering to the directions given by the chief minister."
Senior Superintendent of Police, Bareilly, Satyarth Aniruddha Pankaj said, "We have reached out to meat traders and asked them to ensure that no sale of meat takes place in the open. The traders have assured us of the same." Superintendent of Police, Bijnor, Dinesh Singh said he has also made similar appeals to meat traders who have assured that no sale of meat will take place along the route taken by the Kanwariyas. District officials across the state have started the work to repair the roads demarcated for the Kanwar Yatra.
Surendra Singh, divisional commissioner of Meerut, which sees the maximum movement of Kanwars, said, "I held a meeting with district magistrates of all districts of the division recently. The work to make arrangements for Kanwar yatra is in full swing." "The officials are ironing out minor details, including arrangements for proper sanitation along the route, security arrangements and installation of CCTV cameras at important places," he added.
On the direction of the chief minister, district officials are planning to set up medical camps along the routes. "Since the yatra did not take place in the last two years, we are expecting an increase in the number of Kanwar Yatris this time. Officials have been asked to keep this thing in mind while making arrangements," Singh said. "We have also asked business establishments and eateries along the routes to put up their menu with a rate list prominently to avoid any arguments with Kanwar Yatris over prices," the officer said.
According to administrative officials, lakhs of devotees pass through Saharanpur, Shamli, Meerut, Ghaziabad and Baghpat districts of western Uttar Pradesh to reach Haridwar in Uttarakhand. Kanwariyas from Delhi, Madhya Pradesh, western Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan take National Highway 58 to reach Uttarakhand. The highway passes through Gautam Buddh Nagar, Ghaziabad, Saharanpur, Muzaffarnagar and Meerut before reaching Haridwar via Roorkee (Uttarakhand).
Devotees from Delhi, Haryana and western Uttar Pradesh also take the route via Saharanpur, Shamli and Baghpat districts. A large number of devotees from Moradabad and Bareilly reach Haridwar via Bijnor and Amroha. Inspector General of police of Meerut range Praveen Kumar said, "Our aim will be to provide clear routes for the Kanwar Yatra. For this, arrangements like barricading and traffic diversion are being planned. Peace committee meetings are also being held at police station levels with senior religious heads of the area."
The chief minister, at his meeting, also asked officials to not harass Kanwar yatris. He added that no one should be allowed to display weapons in the religious procession and Kanwar yatris should be allowed to play devotional songs on music systems while keeping the volume within permissible limits. The police administration has also identified sensitive areas where additional force will be deployed during the yatra. Besides, districts in Meerut zone, Faizabad, Prayagraj, Varanasi and their neighbouring districts also witness an influx of Kanwar yatris, primarily from eastern Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Similar arrangements are also being made by the administration in these districts, officials said.