Head of Ram temple trust tests positive for Covid-19

The head of the trust set up to oversee the Ram temple construction in Ayodhya on Thursday tested positive for Covid-19 in Mathura days after he shared the dais with Prime Minister Narendra Modi at the foundation-stone laying ceremony for the shrine on August 5, officials said. Mahant Nritya Gopal Das, 84, the Shri Ram Janmabhoomi Teerth Kshetra Trust chairman, has been shifted to Gurugram’s Medanta hospital for treatment, they added.

“Mahant Nritya Gopal Das has tested positive for coronavirus. [Uttar Pradesh] CM [chief minister Yogi Adityanath] has sought details of the health status of the Mahant. He has spoken to the Mathura DM [district magistrate] and his [Das’s] followers,” said Uttar Pradesh’s additional chief secretary (home), Awanish Kumar Awasthi.

He said Adityanath also spoke to Medanta’s chairman and managing director, Dr Naresh Trehan, and requested him immediate medical attention for Das. “He [Adityanath] directed the Mathura DM [district magistrate Sarvagya Ram Mishra] to provide all possible support to ensure the best possible medical attention,” said Awasthi.

Das was in Mathura to preside over the Krishna Janmashtami celebrations on Wednesday and was staying at Sitaram Temple there. Officials said about a dozen people attended the celebrations and Das also met his disciples during his stay in Mathura since Tuesday. “We are tracing those who came in contact with Mahant Nritya Gopal Das both at [temple] ashram and at Sri Krishna Janambhoomi [birthplace]. They are being placed under quarantine. The priest at Sri Krishna Janambhoomi and office bearer of its Trust present during the celebrations are also to be placed under quarantine,” said Mathura’s additional chief medical officer, Dr Devendra Agarwal. He added those who came in contact with Das were yet to be tested.

Mishra said a team of doctors was rushed to examine Das when he complained of breathing difficulty, fever, and a sore throat on Thursday morning. “An antigen test was conducted and it came positive. A decision was taken to refer him for Medanta hospital and an advanced life support system-equipped ambulance was called. Mathura city magistrate Manoj Kumar Singh and a circle officer… accompanied him to Gurugram.”

Shri Krishna Janambhoomi Seva Sansthan (Mathura) secretary Kapil Sharma said Das had not been keeping well over the last five years, but he appeared fine when he attended the Janmashtami celebrations on Wednesday. “We came to know about his ill health on Thursday morning.”

Das shared the dais with Modi, Adityanath, Uttar Pradesh governor Anandiben Patel and Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh chief Mohan Bhagwat at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Ram temple.

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