Farmers took out protest marches at several places in Punjab on Saturday against the weekend lockdown imposed by the state government amid rising cases of COVID-19 infection and fatalities.
Punjab’s 32 farmer unions, protesting the Central farm laws, had announced to hold street protests against the lockdown in the state and urged shopkeepers to defy the restrictions.
The protests 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,” said Bharti Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan in Moga.
“Lockdown is not a solution to deal with the COVID-19 crisis.”
Mr Khokrikalan also accused the government of doing nothing to improve the health infrastructure.
Farmers, including women, took out marches in the markets and appealed to shopkeepers and traders through loudspeakers to open their shops. However, the shopkeepers kept their shops.
Police personnel in adequate numbers were deployed across the state in the wake of farmers’ protest.
Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Friday had directed the police chief to strictly enforce the weekend lockdown in the state and deal stringently with any violations in view of the farmer unions deciding to protest the lockdown.
The state government have imposed extensive COIVD-19 curbs in addition to measures like a weekend lockdown and night curfew till May 15.
In Amritsar, a farmer leader said if the state government wanted to impose a weekend lockdown then it should give ration to shopkeepers and waive their electricity bills and other taxes.
A police team took out a flag march in a market in Ajnala with officials saying nobody will be allowed to violate the curbs.
Notably, early this week, traders and shopkeepers in Punjab had held protests against the state government’s order of closure of shops dealing in non-essential items.
The chief minister on Friday had authorized the deputy commissioners to take any decision on opening of non-essential shops or private officers on rotation, after taking the local MLAs and other stakeholders into confidence.