BKU-Ekta Ugrahan begins 3-day protest against Punjab govt’s handling of COVID-19

·3-min read

Patiala (Pb), May 28 (PTI) Bharatiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugrahan) on Friday began a three-day protest in Patiala, Chief Minister Amarinder Singh's home constituency, over the state government's alleged failure to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

One of the largest farmers' unions in Punjab, BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) also hit out at the Centre for allegedly failing to deal with the Covid situation.

A BKU (U) leader said only a few protesters will stay at the venue through the night while the rest will join them again the next morning to ensure that Covid-related protocols are strictly followed.

BKU (U) general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokrikalan said the government has failed to tackle the situation brought about by the pandemic.

“While the Narendra Modi government has failed to deal with the Covid situation, we feel the state government failed to put in place adequate arrangements to deal with the scale of the pandemic in Punjab,” he said.

CM Amarinder Singh had on Sunday urged the BKU (Ekta Ugrahan) not to hold their planned sit-in over his government's 'failure' to tackle coronavirus, saying their three-day protest may turn into a super-spreader event.

BKU leaders, though, said all Covid-related protocols were being followed during the protest.

Due care was being taken to ensure that everyone wore a mask and sanitised hands at the machines provided at the protest venue, the PUDA ground here near a police station, they said.

BKU (U) leaders said social distancing norms were also being enforced as farmers who had gathered were made to sit in straight lines.

Hitting out at the state government, Kokrikalan claimed doctors were not available in rural areas to treat patients while in cities there were instances that ventilators were there but no technical staff was available to run them.

“For example in Bathinda, 29 ventilators were given to private hospitals because the government did not have technicians to run them,” he said.

He said several posts of doctors and paramedics are vacant, which he demanded should be filled up at the earliest.

On alleged fleecing of patients by some private hospitals, he said all such large facilities should be brought under government control and rates of COVID patients in small private hospitals should also be capped.

“Big private hospitals should be taken under government control and necessary beds, ventilators and oxygen cylinders should be provided,” he said.

“These are just some of the things because for which we started this dharna to force the government to make adequate arrangements,” he said.

He also said the anti-Covid vaccine should be made available to all people free of charge. Free tests should be arranged in every city, town, and village, he said.

He said if there are any doubts in the minds of people regarding the vaccine, these should be dispelled by the health personnel by launching an awareness campaign.

Another BKU (U) leader said people are bearing the brunt of the government's failure on various fronts.

Kokrikalan and other farmer leaders here alleged that the Centre had also failed in dealing with the COVID-19 situation and some BJP leaders were now trying to shift blame on farmers to defame their agitation by accusing them of spreading coronavirus infection.

They also hit out at the Centre over new farm laws, saying it has adopted an adamant attitude towards the farmers’ demands despite the agitation going on for several months now.

Rejecting the allegation that his government failed to tackle the pandemic, Amarinder Singh had earlier said they fought hard to prevent Punjab going the way of some other states such as Delhi, Maharashtra and even Uttar Pradesh.

Singh had urged farmers not to act 'irresponsibly' and endanger their own lives as their protest may negate the gains made by the state government in the fight against the pandemic, amid a complete ban on all gatherings.

There is no scope for any laxity in Covid-appropriate behaviour and dharnas of any kind are totally unacceptable when the lives are at stake, the CM had said. PTI SUN VSD RAX RAX

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