Covid India: Farmer unions encourage people to ignore curbs
Leaders accuse government of creating panic under the guise of a second Covid wave.
In what could pose a major challenge for the Indian government and authorities in many northern states, battling the raging Covid crisis, a group of farmer unions in Punjab has decided to encourage people including shopkeepers and traders to ignore the curbs and the lockdowns and also join a protest march to the outskirts of Delhi.
Leaders of 32 farmer unions met under the leadership of Baldev Singh Nihalgarh on Thursday at the Singhu border near Delhi and accused the government of creating a panic under the guise of a second Covid wave.
“The central government has failed to fight against the corona pandemic,” said Nihalgarh.
“It has failed to provide proper healthcare and basic facilities to the citizens and now it is once again snatching jobs of people by imposing lockdowns. These lockdowns are no solutions to curb the cases.”
Nihalgarh said the farm leaders would meet on Friday and call for a nationwide agitation to protest against the lockdown curbs. Balbir Singh Rajewal, a 78-year-old farm leader, claimed the lockdown was no solution.
“It only results in losses to the economy and unemployment,” he said.
“This government is just hiding its failures under the garb of lockdown—like how they have failed in providing oxygen, beds and other medical facilities to patients.”
According to him, the “three black farm laws” were also enacted during the lockdown last year.
Both the Punjab and Haryana governments have also been urging the farm leaders to avoid collecting in large numbers and holding public gatherings. In several cities across these two states, thousands of farmers, including men and women, have been joining protest rallies over the past two days. While some leaders said they would request the protestors to wear masks and maintain social distancing, eyewitnesses said there are several instances where these norms are ignored.
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