Protesting Farmers Refuse Covid Test Offer, Smell 'Misuse of Reports' by Haryana Govt

·2-min read

Unions spearheading the months-long farmers agitation have refused COVID-19 testing for protestors along the borders of Delhi at Singhu and Tikri by special health teams from Haryana claiming that the reports could be "misused' to brand them as "super spreaders". Haryana Health Minister Anil Vij had directed Sonepat and Jhajjar district administrations to speak to the protesting farmers, but the latter have rejected the offer for free testing. The farmers, however, were willing to take the vaccination shots. Farmer leader from Punjab, Balbir Singh Rajewal, said testing by health teams from Haryana was unacceptable. "It is a ploy to defame our agitation. They will declare some of the protestors as COVID-positive and brand us as super spreaders. And under that garb will force us to wind up our agitation," Rajewal told reporters. He said there were makeshift hospitals near the protest sites and more than 40 doctors were available round-the-clock, adding no farmer has died due to the coronavirus. Even Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) leader Darshal Pal said protesting farmers had no symptoms, and hence, the question getting tested should not arise. At the Tikri border, Joginder Ugrahan of the Bharat Kisan Union (Ugrahan) echoed similar sentiments stating there were zero cases of the virus. He also raised doubts on the intentions of the Centre and Haryana government over the matter. However, officials said the claim that there were no COVID cases at the protest sites were being made without allowing health teams to carry out any test. Sonepat Superintendent of Police (SP) Jashandeep Singh Randhawa and Additional Deputy Commissioner (ADC) Ashok Bansal had met farmer leaders to convince them to suspend the agitation in view of rising COVID-19 cases, but in vain. However, in a statement issued on Tuesday, the SKM, has said farmer leaders would cooperate with the district administrations and sensitise protesters about COVID-safety norms.

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