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‘Exempt us from the lockdown’

by Istiak Ahmed Shimul

Small traders in Rajshahi staged a demonstration in the city yesterday, demanding exclusion of their businesses from the lockdown. 

They began demonstrating at 10am, blocking the road in front of RDA market and chanting slogans for allowing them to keep their shops open during the lockdown.

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Two hours later, police and district administration officials went to the scene and talked to them. At 12pm, demonstrators withdrew, as the administrative officials agreed to sit with them in the afternoon.

The traders announced that they would occupy the street again today, if their demands remain unfulfilled.

They threatened to defy the prohibition on opening shops and markets.

Abu Aslam, additional deputy commissioner of Rajshahi, said the district administration heard the traders, and they would convey their demands to the government high-ups. “Everyone should have to abide by the rules of the lockdown until the government itself relaxes some of those.”

Meanwhile, the city streets were almost vacant on the first day of lockdown, while most shops and markets remained closed.

Biponno Kumar Sarker, a tea-shop owner at Shaheb bazar Zero Point, expressed his helplessness amid the lockdown.

He kept his shop shut yesterday and said he was observing the situation, and if there was no fear of harassment, he would open his shop from tomorrow.

“I have been restless since I heard about another lockdown. I had to remain half-fed during the last one,” he said.

His mother, aged about 70, has been suffering from her heart disease for the last two weeks. “There is nothing but darkness ahead me. If my daily income stops, how would I run my family and ensure treatment for my mother,” he added. 

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