Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar on Sunday said that the farmers’ agitation is one of the reasons behind the spread of COVID-19 in villages, some of which are witnessing a higher death rate than usual.
Khattar had earlier appealed to farmers protesting against the Centre’s farm laws to suspend their stir, citing the grim coronavirus situation.
Addressing a press conference through the virtual mode, the CM said the movement of those connected with the agitation to and from dharna sites is spreading the infection in villages, some of which have seen “more deaths than the average” number.
“The death rate has gone up by six to 10 times in these villages than what it was previous year. If someone says it is not due to Covid, then there is no other pandemic at this stage,” he said, holding the agitation as one of the factors behind the infection spread.
“Thousands gather at one place, mingle together and Covid-appropriate protocols are not followed,” Khattar said.
He claimed that some of the villages have reported deaths equal to what is witnessed in an entire year there.
Khattar was also critical of former chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda, saying though the Opposition leader is seeking an all-party meeting on Covid, not once has he appealed to farmers to suspend their stir.
Khattar said that in the letter written to him by Hooda, it was apparent that his attitude was only to criticise the state government’s handling of the situation rather than extending cooperation.
“I thought his letter did not deserve even a reply, I just ignored it. There was a reason for this. He wants to do politics more rather than extend cooperation,” said Khattar, hitting out at the Congress leader.
On Hooda saying the state government did not prepare for the second Covid wave, Khattar said the opposition does not understand the seriousness of the issue.
Referring to Hooda’s open letter to the people of Haryana, Khattar asked why could he not make a similar appeal to farmers? “Can the dangers posed by Covid be ignored?” he asked.
Attacking the former CM, Khattar said he and his party should not think of coming to power in the state even in 2029.
“People have seen their misrule, be it their central or state leadership,” he said.
Khattar also said a handful of union leaders are instigating farmers. PTI