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Monday, October 19, 2020

Punjab health minister: ‘Before Modi’s farm laws, masks hardly matter to us’

The health minister was speaking to a crowd, majority of which were not wearing masks, in the absence of any social distancing.

Written by Raakhi Jagga | Sangrur | October 6, 2020 11:02:44 am
Crowd during Rahul Gandhi's rally at Barnala chowk in Sangrur on Monday (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Speaking at Barnala Chowk in Sangrur on the second day of AICC President Rahul Gandhi’s ‘Kheti Bachao Yatra’, Punjab Health Minister Balbir Singh Sidhu on Monday announced that they would “get control over” the coronavirus in another 20-22 days. He was speaking to a crowd, majority of which were not wearing masks, in the absence of any social distancing.

Speaking from the dais, he said, “Looking at the present situation, it seems that we can control Covid cases in another 20-22 days, par Modi di mahamari jiyada khatarnak hai jis karke lokan nu sadakan te aana piya (but Modi’s pandemic in the form of farm laws is more dangerous due to which people had to come on the roads).”

Before Congress leader Rahul Gandhi’s arrival, Balbir Sidhu had even appealed to the masses to wear masks or if they were not carrying one, they could take it from Congress volunteers. However, later in his speech, he said. “Modi di mahamari de samne sanu mask da koi farak nahi painda…(before Modi’s pandemic farm laws, masks hardly matter to us)”

While everyone on stage was wearing masks and seated maintaining distance, no such precautions were taken in the audience, which included children, who were shouting slogans against Prime Minister Narendra Modi holding Congress flags.

Health minister Balbir Singh Sidhu with Deepender Hooda in Sangrur. (Express Photo by Gurmeet Singh)

Surendra Singh, a gol gappa seller, who had come from Preet Nagar, said, “If farmer will be affected, the price of my gol gappe will also be affected. So I have come here.” Singh however was not wearing any mask.

Tehal Singh from Palledar Mazdoor Union had come with his group and when The Indian Express asked them why they weren’t wearing masks, they started covering their faces with cloth. Asked why they had come, Tehal said, “We have problems with our contractor as he does not pay us well. We load wheat, paddy bags onto train bogies to be sent to other states. We don’t have many details about farm laws.”

Balwinder Singh from Katarpura came with his friends Gurbaksh Singh. He said, “Corona is just a way to threaten us to sit back home. We are hardworking people, what can corona do to us? If we will sit back, who will fight for us?” They too were not wearing masks.

Mukhtiar Singh, a farmer who had met Rahul Gandhi on stage, too was not wearing a mask.

Even at dharnas organised by farmers at 45 different places, there is no social distancing and masks are hardly worn.

Punjab’s Covid tally now stands at 1,18,157 and 3,603 deaths. On Monday, 13,577 cases were still active. However, after September 19, the number of patients has been decreasing. On October 3, 1,076 new patients were reported while on October 4, it reduced to 857 patients with 42 deaths and on October 5, 1,062 patients were reported followed by 38 deaths — the lowest in the past one month.

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