Those who believe farmers protesting against three farm laws in Delhi are having fun roaming in tractors and enjoying langars should think again. At least 16 of them lost their lives till December 8 since the ‘Dilli chalo’ protests started on November 24 — or one farmer a day, on an average.
Of the 16 casualties, 11 died due to heart attack, four in road accidents and one due to the winter chill of the national capital. The first death was reported on November 24 when Kahan Singh, a farmer and an activist of the Bhartiya Kisaan Union, was hit by a car while covering tractor-trailers with waterproof tarpaulin in Mehalkalan town of Barnala district. The Bhartiya Kisaan Union declared him “the first martyr of the Delhi morcha”.
Since then, every day on average one farmer is losing his life in the protest. The second death came on November 27 when the farmers were heading towards Delhi. Dhanna Singh, a resident of Khiyali Chehlan Wali village of Mansa district of Punjab, died when a tractor-trolley he was travelling in was hit from behind by a truck. Dhanna Singh was the sole earning member of the family and left behind his wife, 16-year-old daughter and a 13-year-old son.
The third death occurred on November 28 when 55-year-old Gajjan Singh, a resident of Ludhiana’s Khatra village, died at the Tikri border. His family said Gajjan had fallen ill after getting repeatedly wet due to use of water cannons on protesters by the Haryana government. State Kisan wing president and Kotkapura MLA Kultar Singh Sandhwan said, “While precious lives of farmers were lost due to freezing cold conditions and mishaps, the haughty and hamstrung Modi government was not ready to shed its ego and hold hands of the farmers.”
Janak Raj, a tractor repair helper, died in sleep on November 30 at the Tikri border. While 10 farmers, including two women, Gurmail Kaur and Rajinder Kaur, have died due to heart attack at different locations in Punjab during the protests against the farm bills. A farmer from Haryana, too, passed away due to cardiac arrest.
On December 8, 32-year-old Ajay Mor from Sonipat in Haryana was found dead at the Singhu border where protesters were camping. Mor died due to hypothermia (caused due to prolonged exposure to cold conditions), said the chief medical officer in Sonipat.
In Jind district, 58-year-old Kitab Singh Chahal died of cardiac arrest during a bandh called on December 8.
Dr Mridul Sarkar of the Medical Service Centre in Kolkata is currently at the farmers’ protest site at the Singhu border. He said he came across many farmers suffering from chronic diseases and hypertension. “The farmers are under pressure which becomes worse for those suffering from hypertension. Many of them are in depression because they think the new laws will take away their earnings,” Dr Sarkar said.
“Hypertension makes a person prone to heart attack. Some farmers also have a history of chronic illnesses and diabetes. On top of it, farmers have travelled long distances which has had an impact on their health. Delhi is far more polluted and noisy than any town in Punjab. These things make farmers prone to heart attacks,” he added.
Haryana Bhartiya Kisan Union president Gurnam Singh Chaduni said the farmers who died are “martyrs”. He said, “This protest will go on because of them and we will not give up without securing the rights of farmers.”
The government, however, is yet to make a comment on farmers’ deaths. Congress spokesperson Randeep Singh Surjewala tweeted: “Ten protesting farmers have lost their lives until now. Does it not stir PM Modi’s heart?”
The Shiromani Gurdwara Parbandhak Committee (SGPC) has announced financial assistance of ₹1 lakh to the families of farmers who have “sacrificed” their life. Punjab Chief Minister Capt Amarinder Singh also announced financial assistance of ₹5 lakh for the families of two such farmers.
In Haryana, independent MLA Balraj Kundu announced a financial help of ₹2 lakh each for the families of farmers who have died during the agitation. Induraj Narwal, MLA from Baroda, has also announced compensation for farmers and demanded ₹50 lakh as compensation and a government job for the families of farmers who died during the agitation.
Farmers who died during the protest
November 24: Kahan Singh (Dhaner, Barnala)
November 27: Dhanna Singh (Chehlanwali)
November 28: Gajjan Singh (Bhangu Khatra)
November 29: Janak Raj (Dhanaula, Barnala)
November 30: Gurdev Singh (Attar Singhwala)
December 2: Gurjant Singh (Bachhoana, Mansa)
December 3: Gurbachan Singh Sibia (Bhinderkhurd, Moga) and Baljinder Singh (Jhamat, Ludhiana)
December 4: Lakhvir Singh (Laleana, Bathinda)
December 7: Karnail Singh (Sherpur, Sangrur) and Rajinder Kaur (Gangohar, Barnala)
December 8: Gurmail Kaur (Gharachon, Bathinda), Mewa Singh (Khote, Faridkot), Ajay Mor (Sonepat), and Lakhvir Singh (Jharon, Sangrur) and Kitab Singh Chahal (Jind).