Two deaths mar farmers’ protest as Bharat Bandh paralyzes Delhi

Bharat Bandh paralyzes Delhi

New Delhi: The farmers’ agitation against the Centre’s policies turned tragic on Friday as two people, including a 63-year-old farmer, died while participating in the ‘Delhi Chalo’ march. The nationwide strike, called by the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) and the Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM), disrupted traffic and public services in the national capital and several other states.

Gyan Singh, a farmer from Gurudaspur district of Punjab, suffered a heart attack at the Shambhu border near Ambala in Haryana, where thousands of protesters have been camping since Tuesday. He was rushed to a nearby hospital in Rajpura, Punjab, and then referred to Rajendra Hospital in Patiala, where he was declared dead on arrival.

Another casualty was reported from the same border, where a GRP ASI, identified as Hiralal, died of suffocation due to tear gas. Hiralal, a resident of Chulkana village in Panipat, was posted at GRP Samalkha post and was on duty in Ambala due to the farmers’ movement.

The deaths cast a shadow over the fourth day of the farmers’ protest, which saw massive road blockades and rallies across the country. The protesters are demanding a law guaranteeing a minimum support price (MSP) for all crops, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission’s recommendations, debt waiver, pension, and justice for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence.

In Delhi, the police tightened security arrangements and imposed restrictions on the borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, where the farmers are trying to enter the city. Section 144 was enforced in Gautam Buddh Nagar and internet services and bulk SMS were suspended in seven districts of Haryana. Barricades, nails, containers, and cranes were used to prevent the movement of vehicles carrying protesters. The police also kept a close watch on the roads leading to Parliament and other sensitive places.

Bharat Bandh paralyzes Delhi

The farmers’ unions, however, remained defiant and vowed to continue their agitation until their demands were met. They also rejected the Centre’s offer of talks, saying they would not negotiate with any minister other than Prime Minister Narendra Modi. The Centre, on the other hand, has maintained that it is ready to discuss all issues with the farmers in a cordial manner.