Ahead of Rath Yatra, curfew imposed for 41 hours in Puri; 700 priests go in for Covid-19 test !!


Odisha: Hours after the Supreme Court allowed the Rath Yatra in Puri on Tuesday with restrictions in view of the coronavirus pandemic, the Odisha government imposed a 41-hour curfew in the temple town of Puri and started Covid-19 tests of 700 temple priests who would pull the 3 chariots. The SC said in its order that each chariot would be pulled by not more than 500 people, including officials and police and there has to be an interval of 1 hour between pulling of chariots. More than a dozen and a half intervention applications were filed before the SC, seeking modification of the apex court’s June 18 order that stayed the festival of Rath Yatra. The health and family welfare department said 700 servitors would undergo Covid-19 tests tonight and only those who test negative would be allowed to pull the chariots tomorrow. Covid-19 tests of 800 servitors have already been conducted earlier. Odisha Director General of police Abhay said the shutdown will remain in force from 9 pm Monday till 2 pm on Wednesday. “To restrict the entry of people, all entry points to Puri will be sealed and barring urgent matters, no one will be allowed to enter Puri town. The shutdown period will be treated like the imposition of curfew,” Abhay said. “We have mobilized 50 platoons of forces in Puri since Sunday evening. There are two primary objectives – smooth and incident-free pulling of the chariots and restricting entry of unauthorized people into the Grand Road,” he added. Following the go-ahead from the Supreme Court, the Shree Jagannath Temple Administration said that the rituals for Rath Yatra will begin at 3 am inside the 12th-century shrine. The Pahandi ritual (procession) will begin at 7 am and the sibling deities will board the chariots at the Singha Dwara facing towards the Gundicha Temple by 10 am. The Chherapahara ritual will be held at 11.30 am. The chariots will be pulled thereafter, around 12 pm. Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik has already expressed his gratitude to the Supreme Court for allowing the Rath Yatra. Though holding Rath Yatra during such health exigencies is extremely challenging, the Odisha government and the Shri Jagannath Temple Administration is fully prepared to hold the Yatra, he said.

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