Nityanand Rai, Minister of State in the Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) has revealed through a written response to a question raised during the ongoing Monsoon Session of the Parliament, that the central government does not have any record of the number of farmers who have died since the beginning of the protest against the three laws passed last year.
Rajya Sabha members Digvijaya Singh, Kumar Ketkar and Rajmani Patel asked the government whether they have collected data and maintained a record of deaths caused due to dehydration, stress, cold weather conditions and suicide amongst protesting farmers.
MHA’s answer read, “Police’ and ‘Public Order’ are State subjects as per Seventh Schedule to the Constitution of India. No such information is available centrally. Delhi Police has, however, reported death of one farmer due to suicide.”
However, Punjab Chief Minister Captain Amarinder Singh who met Prime Minister Narendra Modi yesterday, on August 11, urged him to immediately initiate steps for the repeal of the controversial Farm Laws, and amendment to the relevant law for including farmers in free legal aid category. He also revealed that the prolonged agitation has already cost the lives of more than 400 farmers and farm workers. The Punjab government has reportedly started providing jobs on compassionate grounds to one family member of such deceased farmers. The press release may be read here.
Further, till July 20, the Punjab government has verified the details of 220 farmers/farm labourers who have died. Out of these 220, 203 (92 percent) farmers/farm labourers deceased were from Malwa region of the state, whereas 11 deaths (5 percent) were from Majha, and six (2.7 percent) from Doaba, as per an Indian Express report.
Nityanand Rai’s answer dated August 11 also states that the central government has no scheme in place to support and compensate the kin of deceased farmers/farm workers. “Ministry of Home Affairs has no scheme of income compensation and jobs to support the family of the deceased in such cases. The respective State Governments deal with matters relating to compensation and jobs in such cases,” read the answer.
Thousands of farmers have entered their ninth month of protesting against the government’s agricultural reforms. During the ongoing Monsoon Session of the Parliament, the Centre has been facing extreme backlash from the Opposition parties regarding the farmers’ issue and the three farm laws.
On July 22, the Delhi police escorted around 200 farmers from protest spots on the borders to Jantar Mantar, near the Parliament to demonstrate against the laws. Rakesh Tikait, a leader of the Bharatiya Kisan Union, one of the largest grouping of farmers was quoted by Reuters saying, “We are here to remind the government again that the anti-farmer laws need to be rolled back to protect Indian agriculture and millions of poor farmers from a complete takeover by large corporations.”
The protests have also led to widespread detention and arrests over the past few months. On August 4, the Home Ministry revealed to the Parliament that 183 people were arrested (now out on bail) by the Delhi Police in connection with the protest from 2020 upto July 20, 2021, as we had previously reported in SabrangIndia.
The answer may be read here:
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