Hundreds gathered defying COVID-19 lockdown order to celebrate Siddalingeshwara Jatra in Karnataka

Bengaluru: Hundreds of devotees came on road defying all norms of lockdown to celebrate Siddalingeshwara Jatra (fair) held in Ravoor village of Kalaburgi district in Karnataka on Thursday. Kalaburagi – a COVID-19 hotspot reported the first death in the country.

According to reports, the gathering was part of the Siddalingeshwara fair that is associated with a chariot festival held in Chittapur taluka every year. A video shared by New Indian Express journalist on micro-blogging site shows devotees violating not just the lockdown but also social distancing norms.

The temple authorities arranged the Pallakki Seva a day prior to the Jatra on Wednesday symbolically as requested by district administration.

The Pallakki Seva took place on Wednesday evening. As per the request of the Chittapur taluka administration, it was held symbolically with some priests and trust members present.

Although after agreeing to cancel the procession to be held next day, the chariot was pulled on Thursday morning at 5 am in presence of many devotees without informing the administration.

Initial reports suggested that despite the huge turnout, neither the police nor the district administration intervened. After the videos caused a storm on Twitter, the district police registered a case against the temple trust.

“A case has been registered against those people [20 identified and others being identified] for violation of the lockdown rules,” Martin said. “A sub-inspector has been suspended.”

An FIR against the Siddalingeshwara Trust management has also been registered today.

According to the Union health ministry, Kalaburagi has one of the highest number of confirmed COVID-19 cases in Karnataka. As of Thursday, the district has 20 cases, the fourth highest among all districts. There have been three deaths in the district, the highest among all districts in Karnataka. According to reports, 14 of the 20 patients who have been identified are under treatment.