Cong, BJP, others slam Kerala govt stand on merchants reopening shops

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Kozhikode/Thiruvananthapuram, Jul 14 (PTI) Support for the merchants, demanding they be allowed to open their shops, came pouring in from various political parties, including the Congress and BJP, with all of them on Wednesday flaying Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan for his 'threat' of action against those shopkeepers who violated COVID-19 protocols.

Kerala Pradesh Congress Committee (KPCC) president and Lok Sabha MP K Sudhakaran and Leader of Opposition in the state assembly, V D Satheesan, said their party was supporting the merchants and the CM should not think he can scare people with his 'threats'.

'Those tactics will not work,' Satheesan said to the media.

Sudhakaran said the chief minister should have adopted a more considerate and soft approach, instead of such a harsh stand.

He also said that despite all these restrictions, the number of covid cases have not gone down.Whereas, in Delhi and Tamil Nadu, without such restrictions, they have managed to bring down the number of infections.

National General Secretary of Indian Union Muslim League (IUML), P K Kunhalikutty, said at a time when merchants and businessmen were to be taken into confidence, the state government was viewing them as enemies.

He said using power to threaten and scare people was not right and if the ruling government thinks it can do anything because it has the police with it, that will not happen in Kerala.

He further said the merchants and businessmen need to run their shops to survive, for upkeep of their families, to pay debts and taxes and in such a situation they ought not to be threatened.

He said that doing so would lead to businessmen leaving the state for greener pastures.

Merchants of S M Street or Mittai Theruvu in Kozhikode protested outside their shops on July 12 morning against the bar on opening their establishments as the area falls in category C having a test positivity rate of 10 to 15 per cent.

The shopkeepers had claimed their businesses have been shut for the last two months and now it was becoming difficult to survive.

However, district administration and police officers told the media that as the area falls in category C -- places with a Covid test positivity rate (TPR) of 10 to 15 per cent -- shops cannot be allowed to open in the area.

Areas below TPR of 5 per cent are included in category A, those with 5 to 10 per cent are included in category B and areas with 10 to 15 per cent are included in category C and those above 15 per cent will be in category D.

The merchants, on the other hand, had said if liquor vends, where overcrowding can be seen, are being allowed to run, then why not shops and added that they will run their businesses by following all COVID protocol.

The protesting shopkeepers had said they were under huge debts and if they are not allowed to run their businesses, then they may have to resort to suicide as they are finding it difficult to survive presently.PTI HMP BN BALA BN BALA

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