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Following protests by shop owners against new Covid-19 restrictions, the Pune Police have booked 36 traders including Fatechand Ranka, the president of Federation of Trade Association of Pune (FTAP), for violating Covid-19 norms.
The FIR was lodged at Vishrambaug police station late Thursday under sections of the Epidemic Diseases Act, 1897, Disaster Management Act, 2005, and the Indian Penal Code based on a complaint given by police constable Ganesh Turke.
“We lodged a police complaint on Thursday night against Fatehchand Ranka, president of the Federation of Trade Association of Pune, and35 othersfor protesting on Laxmi Road on Thursday morning. Ranka and other traders gathered on Laxmi Road without maintaining proper social distancing. We have registered a case against the traders under Section 188 (Disobedience to order duly promulgated by public servant) of Indian Penal Code,” said police inspector Sanjay Mogale of Vishrambaug police station.
On Thursday, traders and shop owners took to the streets to protest against the new Covid-19 restrictions imposed by the Maharashtra government to keep non-essential shops closed till April 30.
While the traders vowed to open shops on Friday, they later postponed the decision till Monday if the government does not withdraw its lockdown order, said Ranka.
“We wrote to chief minister Uddhav Thackeray and deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar [on Wednesday] and conveyed our demand to allow us to reopen non-essential shops. We are ready to follow all protocols, so why this compulsion of closing non-essential shops just before the festive season?” said Ranka.
The Pune Municipal Corporation (PMC) has formed teams to act against shopkeepers trying to reopen their establishments. “We have already asked shopkeepers to follow government directions given the seriousness of the situation. If there are any violations, we will act against shopkeepers based on the orders from state government,” said PMC commissioner Vikram Kumar.
Darshan Rawal, secretary, United Hospitality Association, said, “The newly imposed restrictions are equal to a complete lockdown for us. The decision by the government is affecting lakhs of people.”
Rahul Yemul, owner, Peshwai Creations, said, “Though our shop is closed, our daily expenses have increased. We have to pay for the salaries of our staff, electricity bills and shop maintenance. We will take all safety measures, but lockdown is not the solution.”
Jetharam Tak, one of the workers at a cloth shop, said, “I am completely dependent on this job to earn for my family. All our savings have been used up in the last year due to the lockdown. Common public is suffering due to the pandemic, the government should not burden us more.”
Meanwhile, hospitality associations organised silent protests, under the aegis of the United Hospitality Forum of Maharashtra, against the recent lockdown order.The campaign #MissionRoziRoti has gained momentum on social media with restaurateurs and hoteliers posting pictures, messages, and videos showing support and solidarity to the campaign.
Maharashtra on Thursday reported 56,286 new Covid-19 cases and 376 deaths, taking the tally to 3,229,547 and toll to 57,028. Active cases in the state have touched 521,317 while cumulative case fatality rate stands at 1.76%. On Wednesday, Maharashtra conducted a total of 236,815 tests, with a positivity rate of 23% for the day.
The number of active Covid-19 cases in Maharashtra is likely to cross the 1,100,000 mark by April 30, if adequate measures, such as imposing restrictions on movement or business, are not imposed to control the spread of the virus, according to the state health department. This is being considered as the second wave in the state which began around February 11.