Terming the lockdown a means to conceal the failure of governments to ramp up essential medical facilities and frame a scientific policy to deal with the pandemic, farmers’ groups from Punjab on Wednesday appealed to every family to send at least one member to the protest sites along Delhi borders.
The call to violate lockdown – shops have been asked to stay open, too – came after a meeting at Delhi’s Singhu border. Representatives of Punjab farmers will suggest opposing lockdowns across the country at a meeting of the Sanyukta Kisan Morcha scheduled for Friday.
There are plans to move larger jathas to the protest sites on May 10 and 12. Arrangements will be made for Covid vaccination on the sidelines of the lockdown defiance, sources said.
According to farm leaders Baldev Singh Nihalgarh and Balbir Singh Rajewal, the “death rate of 1.4% due to coronavirus is like that of any other ailment”.
At a time when the number of Covid-19 cases has reached record levels in India, such a decision is extremely irresponsible. The Punjab farmer organisations must reverse their decision. If they don’t, the government must act to prevent large gatherings.
“Governments are acting under the garb of Covid to snatch the rights of people and worsen their economic condition. The lockdown is proving disastrous for migrant workers and all this will eventually go against farmers.” Buta Singh Burjgill, another farm leader, said, “We have been witnessing the coronavirus for 13 months. This lockdown has proved insufficient to deal with the situation… It seems the lockdown has been imposed as per the diktats of BJP and PM Narendra Modi.”
A jatha left for Delhi from Amritsar on Wednesday to join the agitating farmers. “There is no issue of Covid-19 at all with the farmers; they are in Chardi Kalan. We are using the NH and, if stopped anywhere, we will sit there in dharna,” Kisan Mazdoor Sangharsh Committee general secretary Sarwan Singh Pandher said, when asked if the jatha members had got themselves tested for Covid. He said nearly 8,000 people were going to Delhi in tractor trailers. “The presence of so many women in our jatha vindicates our stand that every farmer household is fearful of the consequences of enforcing the three new farm laws.”