Punjab CM had urged them to call off stir on poor COVID management.
Dismissing Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh’s appeal to not go ahead with their protest, which could turn into a super-spreader of COVID-19, the Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta-Ugrahan), one of the largest farmer’s unions in Punjab, on Monday said it would go ahead with its three-day protest in Patiala.
Sukhdev Singh, general secretary of BKU(U), told The Hindu the proposed protest against the ruling Congress government in Punjab for its alleged failure to control and manage the situation arising out of COVID-19 will be held as planned from May 28 with all precautions in place.
“People across the State are suffering on account of government’s failure on several fronts. Health department has shortage of staff, which is one of the reasons that optimum use of ventilators and other equipment in government hospitals were not being made. There are reports of shortage of beds in hospitals, medicines and oxygen from several places. The task of mobilising budget and providing adequate infrastructure for mass expansion should be done on a war footing. All large private hospitals should be brought under government control, besides the rates of treatment of Corona patients in small private hospitals should be capped. We want State government to resolve all the issues,” he said.
Mr. Singh said imposing a lockdown was not an appropriate solution for battling COVID-19.
“Instead, the government along with all stakeholders should organise a comprehensive information and education campaign surrounding COVID-19. It should also ensure adequate financial support for the livelihood, employment, income and business of the people in case the lockdown is inevitable. The vaccine against the disease should be made available to all people free of cost,” he said.
Asking BKU(U) to not hold the protest, the Chief Minister had stated that the event could turn into a super-spreader and had the potential to negate the gains made by his government in tackling COVID in the State.
Captain Singh urged the farmers’ group not to act irresponsibly and jeopardise the lives of their own people with such reckless behaviour amid the pandemic, especially when there is a complete ban in the State on all gatherings and any violation of the ban would be highly detrimental to the interests of Punjab and its people. Such a ‘dharna’ would draw people mainly from the villages, which were in any case going through a crisis during the second wave of the pandemic, he pointed out.
The group’s action was also completely unwarranted considering the total support the State government had extended all these months to the agitating farmers on the issue of the Centre’s farm laws, said Captain Singh. His government was the first to pass amendment laws in the state Assembly to contravene the Farm Laws, he pointed out.
“It is time for the farmers now to reciprocate by supporting the State government in the fight against the pandemic,” he said, adding that just as the farmers’ interests were inexorably linked with that of Punjab, so was Punjab’s interest dependent on the farmers’ support to his government in the battle against COVID.
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