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Business News/ News / India/  Farmers protest: Fifth death reported; govt says working to resolve issues
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Farmers protest: Fifth death reported; govt says working to resolve issues

Farmer leaders had rejected a government proposal in the fourth round of talks, leading to the resumption of the protest

Farmers take part in a vigil on Friday for a farmer who was allegedly killed in police action at the Khanauri border in Patiala district. (PTI)Premium
Farmers take part in a vigil on Friday for a farmer who was allegedly killed in police action at the Khanauri border in Patiala district. (PTI)

A protester died after a heart attack while others were injured as farmers resumed the 'Delhi Chalo' march on the Punjab-Haryana border on Friday. The Haryana Police deployed tear gas shells to thwart attempts to breach police barricades at Shambhu and Khanauri.

Farmer leaders had rejected a government proposal in the fourth round of talks, leading to the resumption of their protest. On Friday, Darshan Singh, a 62-year-old farmer, died after a heart attack at Khanauri border – the fifth protester to die in these protests. He was taken to a hospital after he complained of uneasiness and suffered a cardiac arrest soon after. 

Nearly 12 police personnel were reportedly injured in clashes involving sticks and stones. In response to the unrest, police urged owners of heavy equipment to withdraw from protest sites, expressing concern over potential harm to security forces. 

Farmer leader Sarwan Singh Pandher said the next course of action would be decided on Friday evening.

Union agriculture and farmers’ Welfare minister Arjun Munda, one of three ministers engaging with farmer leaders, called for further talks and appealed for peace.

Meanwhile, Union Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman said that the government is sincerely working to resolve issues faced by farmers.

"Centre has formed a 3-member committee of ministers and is negotiating with farmers...PM Modi has taken every step to increase the income of farmers and he works for even the smallest farmers. The expense of Urea has reached 3,000 from 300 but even today farmers are buying it at 300 because the govt took the responsibility on its shoulders...We are sincerely working on the issues regarding farmers," Sitharaman told ANI.

Union information and broadcasting minister Anurag Thakur also urged the protesting farmers to not follow the path of violence and said the government is ready for further talks.

“The first request is to all the protesting brothers not to adopt the path of violence. The government was always ready for talks with the farmer leaders and is so even today. Whatever farmer organizations want to talk about, even in the first four phases, the ministers of the Modi government met them. We met in Chandigarh and positively talked for hours," he was quoted as saying in an official statement. 

“We have also said further that we are ready for discussion whenever needed. We all should make efforts to ensure that there is no violence, no arson, no loss of anyone's property or life. We have increased the purchase price of sugarcane from 315 to 340 per quintal. This has increased by about 8% compared to last year. And not only this, we are ensuring that we double the income of the farmers, we have taken every step in that direction."

Farmers on Monday rejected the government’s proposal to buy pulses, maize and cotton crops at guaranteed prices for five years, and announced they would continue with their ‘Delhi chalo’ agitation.

Thousands of farmers from Punjab remain camped at the Punjab-Haryana borders demanding a legal guarantee for minimum support price, or MSP, implementation of the Swaminathan Commission's recommendations, pension for farmers and farm labourers, and farm debt waiver.

They have also sought withdrawal of police cases against protesting farmers, "justice" for the victims of the Lakhimpur Kheri violence, reinstatement of the Land Acquisition Act, 2013, and compensation to the families of the farmers who died during the previous agitation in 2020-21.

The latest round of protests comes after muted farm earnings over the past year, during which the government placed export curbs on wheat, rice, sugar and onion, depressing local prices. Farm incomes were also hit by repeated climate shocks such as heatwaves and uneven rains.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Puja Das
Puja Das is a New Delhi based reporter, covering food, farm, fertiliser, water, and climate change policies for Mint. Puja reports on food security, farmers' distress and how the agriculture sector is impacting India's rural economy along with policy initiatives to help meet the pledges made at COP21 in Paris. Puja holds a post-graduation degree in Broadcast Journalism from the Indian Institute of Journalism & New Media, Bangalore.
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Published: 23 Feb 2024, 10:17 PM IST
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