Gym owners stage protest at over 20 locations in Ludhiana
Lambasting the state government for allegedly discriminating against the health industry, Gym Ekta Welfare Association staged a protest at over 20 locations in the city seeking permission for reopening of gyms on Wednesday.
The gym owners and their staff protested at Bharat Nagar Chowk, Gill Chowk, Issa Nagar Pulli, Jamalpur Chowk, Dugri Canal Bridge, Jalandhar Bypass, Sherpur Chowk, among other areas.
Holding banners and raising slogans against the government, they rued that the gyms have been closed for over two months now even as the administration is relaxing the curfew norms for different sectors, and they have been struggling to earn bread and butter for their families. They added that the government has turned a blind eye to their situation.
Blaming the government for the suicide committed by gym owner Varinder Kohli in the city last month, the gym owners stated that the government is pushing them and their staff towards starvation and indebtedness.
They stated that the gyms had been closed for five months last year and now when their business was slowly coming back on track, the government ordered their closure on March 18.
Monu Sabharwal, president of Gym Ekta Welfare Association, said, “There are around 800 gyms in the city and over 80% of them are being run on rental properties. The owners are struggling to pay the fixed charges including rent, electricity bills, etc. The government has also failed to provide any relief to the sector.”
The gym owners stated that liquor vends are allowed remain to open but the gyms, where immunity is boosted, have been closed.
Navneet Singh, president of Punjab Gym Welfare Society and owner of Aura gym, and Ramesh Bangar, director of Gym Ekta Welfare Association, stated that the government should at least allow gyms to remain during the curfew relaxation period so that they can earn a livelihood otherwise many other gym owners will also be forced to commit suicide due to financial constraints in the coming days.”
“We are ready to follow all the norms and guidelines, but the government should at least give us a chance to earn a livelihood,” said Bangar.
Sabharwal said that if the government fails to provide any relief till June 10, they will be forced to raise a state-level agitation.
Various leaders from political parties including Shiromani Akali Dal, Aam Aadmi Party, and Lok Insaaf Party extended support to the protest organised by the gym owners. Few Congress leaders including Kulwant Singh Sidhu assured the protesters that the matter will be taken up with the state government.