In view of the rise in Covid- 19 cases, Haryana Chief Minister, Manohar Lal Khattar, on Thursday appealed to farmers protesting against the Centre’s new farm laws to withdraw their movement on humanitarian grounds.

Presiding over a meeting called to review Covid-19 cases and vaccinations in Haryana today, Khattar said it is the Constitutional right of every person to protest, but it’s not the right time for this. “We have no problem with those who protest. However, at this time, due to Covid-19, life may be put in danger, so this is not the right time to protest,” the CM said. “If they (farmers) have to hold or protest for any of their demands, they can do it when the situation improves,” he added.

Khattar also directed the deputy commissioners to contact the agitating farmers and try to persuade them. He appealed to the people of the state to only leave their homes whenever necessary and to wear masks, use sanitiser and maintain social distancing whenever they go out of the house. He said that there is proper arrangement of oxygen, ventilators and beds in the state. So people need not panic, the CM said.

He said strict precautions should be taken to prevent the spread of Covid-19 so that economic activities are not stalled in the state. The CM said due to increasing number of Covid-19 cases in the country and the state, everyone should take strict precautions. “Last year, economic activities had stalled due to the lockdown, which took about six months to get back on track. Therefore, we have to keep in mind that the economic cycle should continue in the state and that no one is adversely affected as well. We also have to keep in mind as to what is unavoidable and what can be avoided,” he added.

Khattar said, in the second wave of the infection, the spread of Covid-19 has started from educational institutions, “so there is a need to be more vigilant, especially there”.

“We also need to reduce crowding in public gatherings etc. Therefore, it has been decided that from now on, not more than 200 people can gather in open spaces during public functions and not more than 50 in indoor functions. Similarly, no more than 20 people will be able to attend funerals,” the CM said.

He directed all the deputy commissioners to issue advisory in their respective districts to ensure that night-time ceremonies should be shifted to the day time and the Navratra programmes should also be held during the day.

Haryana home and health minister, Anil Vij said there are two ways to prevent Covid-19 from spreading. The first method is lockdown and the second is strictness, he added. We want the situation to be dealt with strictly instead of imposing lockdown in the state.

He said that we can withstand resentment of people by acting strictly but cannot see people dying. “This time Covid-19 is more aggressive. Last year the number of cases increased gradually, but this time it is a matter of serious concern that about five and a half thousand cases are reported in a single day,” Vij added.