Chandigarh: As thousands of farmers took out protest marches at several places in Punjab on Saturday against the weekend lockdown amid rising of Covid-19 cases, Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh warned that the lockdown violators will be dealt with sternly. Singh also rejected charges by the farmer groups that the state government was trying to ‘sabotage’ the farmers’ agitation.
Even as Punjab’s daily Covid caseload continued to hover around the 9,000-mark, 32 farmer unions had announced to hold street protests against the lockdown in the state and urged shopkeepers to defy the restrictions. The protest rallies were taken out in Moga, Patiala, Amritsar, Ajnala, among other places in the state.
“We are appealing to shopkeepers to open their shops. We are with them," announced Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan in Moga. “Lockdown is not a solution to deal with the Covid-19 crisis," he said.
Farmers, including women, took out marches in the markets and appealed to shopkeepers and traders through loudspeakers to open their shops despite heavy police presence. However, the shopkeepers kept their shops closed.
Reiterating that there was no question of sabotaging the farmers agitation, the chief miniser said that no violation of the weekend lockdown and other restrictions in the state could be allowed at any cost, given the current grim situation. “There are lives at stake, saving them is our priority, and it is the responsibility of every Punjabi to save them," he said, urging BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) and BKU (Ekta Dakaounda) leaders not to give a twist to his previous comments on the issue.
Amid the call of the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha to oppose the weekend lockdown, Singh had on Friday asked the DGP to strictly enforce all the weekend restrictions and not allow any violation at any cost. “Leaders of two organisations had misinterpreted the statement to raise doubts about my intentions towards the ongoing farmers’ stir,” said the chief minister. “How can my government go against the interests of the farmers when it was the first in the country to move the amendment laws in the Vidhan Sabha to annul the draconian Farm Laws of the Central Government?" said Singh, asserting that as far as the central laws were concerned, his government’s stand against them had been clear and consistent.