One more priest has tested positive for Covid-19 just two days before the grand ceremony for laying the foundation stone for the proposed Ram Temple is to be held. Confirming this, the 82-year-old head priest, Satyendra Das told Hindustan Times that he was a bit worried.
“Of course it is worrying,” he said, speaking to HT on the phone. “Prem Kumar Tiwari is part of the team that conducts the daily rituals here at the site.” Just last week, another priest called Pradeep Das from the team had also tested positive and all those who were in contact with him were quarantined. Three fire officials who were posted at the temple site had also tested positive for the disease.
“We all stay in the same area in the mandir. I also have some other conditions and I’m not a young man,” he said.
According to the trust officials, there were large numbers of temple priests and other workers who were tested for Covid-19, including the head priest himself.
However, senior district officials played down the importance of today’s developments. “We have tested a large number of people and we are taking all precautions. I don’t think this event has any risks at all,” he said.
“We had all the major festivals- we’ve had Ram Navami celebrations in April, we’ve celebrated Eid, so why should we not be able to celebrate this,” said Prakash Sharma, who works with the trust.
However, Covid-19 fears have already caused others to drop out. Despite having been invited, Waqf Board Chairman Zafar Ahamad Farooqui’s spokesperson said that he wasn’t feeling well since he returned from Ayodhya the previous day.
“Yes, the chairman has got an invite. However, he returned from Ayodhya yesterday where the land papers were handed over and since then he hasn’t been feeling well. It’s not Covid-19 possibly as he had surgery, but he won’t be travelling,” said Athar Hussain.