Kozhikode traders clash with police during protests demanding opening of shops

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Kerala has been following strict COVID-19 lockdown in areas where test positivity rate is high, allowing only shops in certain categories to open.

Angry traders having their business establishments at Kozhikode, launched massive protests on Monday and clashed with the police on the streets. They wanted their shops to be open on all days, whereas Kerala’s COVID-19 restrictions allow shops to open only on certain days depending on the test positivity rate of the area.

 “We want to live, who will pay our debts. This cannot go on indefinitely,” were the cries of protests that rendered the air at the once busy Kozhikode Mitayi Therevu (Sweet Street).

Joining the protesters were the Youth Congress activists and with both these groups out on the streets, the police started arresting them for violation of COVID-19 lockdown rules. As per the COVID-19 protocol in the state, shops can open depending on which category (A, B, C, D) they belong to based on the test positivity rate of each local body.

“As of now, Saturday and Sunday are total lockdown and apart from that, places are categorised. We feel these are totally unscientific. There has to be an end to our misery as life has to go forward. If these are the ways things are going forward, not many will be left. This has to change, if not, suicides will increase,” said an angry group of protesters.

Hearing about the protests spilling on to the streets, Minister AK Saseendran, in charge of Forests and Wild Life and who hails from Kozhikode, assured that things will be looked into, while the state Local Body Minister MV Govindan also promised the traders that he will see how things can go forward.

“See, we are only following the basic rules that have been laid down. According to the rule of law, the protesters have been arrested and let out on bail. We can only do this,” said a top police official at Kozhikode.

However, the leader of the traders body T Nasirudhin said, Monday’s protest was not one under their organisation and it was a natural one. “These days it’s difficult to contain the members of our body. The Muslim festival of Eid-Ul-Adha is round the corner and it’s natural for all traders to get some business and hence shops should be allowed to open,” said Nasirudhin.

Kerala still reports a high number of COVID-19 cases every day. Close to 23% of the country’s daily cases are from the state and the active cases are over one lakh.