Screening, social distancing given go-by at Amritsar shrines

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Despite a spurt in Covid cases, scant precautionary measures are being adopted at the Golden Temple and Durgiana Mandir in Amritsar. When a Tribune team visited both shrines, it appeared the devotees did not see much reason in taking precautions against the pandemic.

It was left to the ‘discretion’ of the devotees to follow the guidelines. Six feet physical distance and face mask was not mandatory. No screening of devotees was being done. Though the SGPC has set up a sanitising tunnel at the Ghanta Ghar side, the main entrance point of the Golden Temple and another one at the sarais (inns) side remain neglected.

Unlike last year when ample arrangements were in place to check the health of devotees before letting them in, this time no thought was effort was made to set up a health checkup counter or arrangement for hand sanitisation. A sewadar at the entrance of the Golden Temple said, “Earlier, we used to ask the devotees to take off the masks before entering, but now, there is no restriction. It is devotees’ own will whether to wear a mask or not.”

Another sewadar also joined in to express his viewpoint. “It is ‘babe da dwar’ (a place of faith) and people come here to seek blessings for good health and prosperity. No one can be forced to do anything,” he said.

SGPC honorary chief secretary Harjinder Singh Dhami said though no visitor could be forced to wear a mask, but from today, the sewadars would be directed to encourage the visitors to wear one. We will shortly hold a meeting with the Deputy Commissioner for engaging health teams and take other preventive steps,” he said.At Durgiana Mandir, absolutely no arrangement has been made to comply with the guidelines. Mandir committee president Ramesh Sharma said, “We have sanitisation tunnels. These will be installed soon. Also, the devotees will be asked to wear masks and maintain social distancing.”

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