'People restless, can't extend lockdown indefinitely,' Kerala govt to SC

Centre asks states to ensure lockdown opening up is 'carefully calibrated', avoid crowding in markets
People purchase mobile accessories after relaxations in COVID-induced lockdown, in Kozhikode, Friday, June 18, 2021. PTI

New Delhi: The Kerala government has conveyed to the Supreme Court that the prolonged restrictions imposed due to the COVID-19 have made the people restless and hence lockdown cannot be extended indefinitely.

The government made its stand clear in an affidavit filed in connection with a petition challenging the lockdown relaxations announced for Eid al-Adha (Bakrid).

It pointed out that Covid restrictions and economic slowdown were badly affecting people's lives. The government told the court that relaxations were announced for three days because of the demand raised by the opposition parties and traders organisations.

A Delhi-based Malayali businessman P K D Nambiar filed the petition in Supreme Court alleging that the Kerala government was playing with the lives of people by giving relaxation in curbs at a time when the country was facing an emergency situation. The apex court had sought an explanation from the government on the concerns raised in the petition on Monday itself.

Earlier the opposition Congress and the Indian Medical Association (IMA) had warned of legal action against the three-day relaxations announced in the state.

Congress National Spokesperson Abhishek Manu Singhvi had tweeted if Kanwar Yatra was wrong, then so were the relaxations for Bakrid, especially in a state which was presently one of the "hotbeds" for COVID-19 infection. "Deplorable act by Kerala Govt to provide 3 days relaxations for Bakrid celebrations especially because it's one of the hotbeds for Covid-19 at present. If Kanwar Yatra is wrong, so is Bakra Eid public celebrations," he tweeted.

The Indian Medical Association said it was "pained" to see that amidst rising COVID-19 cases in Kerala, the state government has issued an order to ease lockdown in the state "on the pretext of religious gatherings of Bakrid". Terming the government move as "unwarranted" and "inappropriate", the IMA said, "When many northern states like Jammu and Kashmir, and UP have stopped, with a constructive sense of public safety, the traditional and popular pilgrimage yatras, it is unfortunate that the state of Kerala has taken this decision which will pave way for mass gatherings."

The petition will come up for hearing again on Tuesday. The court will decide whether to intervene in the relaxation after hearing the arguments of the government and petitioner.

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