A 42-year-old farmer from Pakasma village in Rohtak, who had consumed poison at the Tikri border on Wednesday (January 20), died during treatment at a hospital in Delhi on Thursday (January 21).
Jai Bhagwan Rana, who was part of the farmers’ protest at the Delhi border, is the fifth person to die by suicide, taking the death toll during the protests by farmers to 135. Thousands of farmers have gathered to protest against the government’s new farm laws. They started congregating at the Delhi border two months ago.
Rana left a suicide note in which he said, “I am a small farmer. A lot of farmers from every state of India have joined the protest against the farm laws but the government is saying it is just a matter of two to three states. The government is not agreeing with our demands and there is no other option left now apart from dying by suicide.”
Rana’s mother Imarti told The Federal that he had been depressed for a long time. She said, “We are very sad. We don’t know why he took this step. We did not want this to happen but Jai was depressed because of the farm laws and had loans as well. He worked as a labourer in other farms, as he did not have any land. He joined the protest nearly a month ago.” Rana has left behind his wife and his 11-year-old daughter.
The police said Rana consumed sulphas tablets around 7-8 pm at the Tikri border on Wednesday and collapsed on the road, following which he was rushed to Sanjay Gandhi Hospital, where he died during treatment.
Two other farmers participating in the ongoing agitation at the Tikri border also lost their lives in the past 24 hours. Dhanna Singh (65) of Tunda village in Patiala died reportedly of cardiac arrest, while 34-year-old Jagjeet Singh of Ludhiana’s Dhatt village also died reportedly of a cardiac arrest at Kundli on Wednesday.
Balbir Singh Rajewal, president, Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU) (Rajewal) told The Federal that more than 135 farmers have lost their lives during the ongoing farmers’ agitation since November 26.
Rajewal added, “We had shared data in a meeting with the government recently saying 125 farmers have lost their lives. After that, more than 10 farmers have been martyred, which has increased the number of deaths to more than 135. We are collecting the information including background, land details, name and family members of farmers martyred in the farmers’ protest and will release the list soon.”
One of the leaders of this farmer’s agitation, Pargat Singh, who has been collecting the data on farmers’ deaths said that 90 farmers have lost their lives at the borders itself. Others are sacrificing their lives in Haryana and Punjab as well, while sitting at the protest meetings in these states, he pointed out.
Doctors said that most of the deaths has occurred due to the severe cold, as farmers are being exposed to extreme weather conditions, out in the open at the Tikri and Singhu borders. Of the deceased, a majority died due to cold-induced heart attack, while others died either by accident or suicide.
Dr J S Punia, the chairperson of the Civil Hospital in Sonipat, earlier told The Federal that post-mortem reports suggest that the dead had enlarged hearts, which confirms heart attack as the cause of death.
Dr Mridul Sarkar, a doctor treating protesting farmers at the Singhu border, said that cold weather conditions weaken the heart because it has to work harder to keep the body warm.
“Cold makes blood flow difficult, leading to the formation of blood clots. A heart attack usually occurs when a clot blocks blood flow to the heart. Farmers on the Delhi border are exposed to extreme cold, which may cause myocardial infarction, commonly known as a heart attack,” Dr Punia explained.
Gurnam Singh Chadauni, president of BKU Haryana, meanwhile told The Federal that the union has decided to give ₹51,000 to all the martyrs of the farmers’ protest and the union will also help their families in every way. He said, “We also demand government compensation and government jobs for these families, who have lost their members in the agitation.”