25/03/2020 3:04 PM IST

Yogi Adityanath Defies PM Modi's Lockdown, Shifts Ram Idol In Ayodhya

The Home Ministry guidelines for the lockdown had said that all places of worship shall be closed for the public.

Twitter/Yogi Adityanath
Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath offers prayers at the makeshift temple.

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Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Tuesday night announced a complete lockdown in India to contain the spread of COVID-19 and said there will be a ban on people stepping out of homes—the rules of social distancing, he said, applied to the Prime Minister himself. A home ministry statement issued a little while later made it clear that “no religious congregations will be permitted, without any exception”.

Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath, it seems, is the exception where there should be none. 

Early on Wednesday morning, he participated in a ceremony to shift the idol of Ram to a temporary structure in Ayodhya. The idol will remain here till the construction of the Ram temple is completed. 

After the idol was placed, the Chief Minister offered special prayers and donated Rs 11 lakh for the construction. 

A few senior leaders of RSS and VHP were present on the occasion, according to PTI.

In the video and pictures shared by the Chief Minister, several people can be seen standing close to each other while offering prayers. At least 20 people attended the ritual, according to NDTV, and senior government officials including Ayodhya’s district magistrate and the police chief were present.

This came soon after the Prime Minister stressed on the importance of social distancing to combat coronavirus. In his address to the nation on Tuesday, Modi had said, “Social distancing is necessary for each citizen, for each family, and for each member of the family.”

The number of coronavirus cases in India rose to 562 on Wednesday and Uttar Pradesh has 35 positive cases. 

The Home Ministry guidelines for the lockdown had also stated that all places of worship shall be closed for public (see point 9 in the MHA guidelines below).

Soon after tweeting these pictures and video, Adityanath appealed to the people to perform all religious rituals during Navratri at their homes. He had made a similar appeal last week. 

The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) had also flouted the social distancing guidelines during the swearing-in ceremony of Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan on Monday. 

(With PTI inputs)