A man named Bhim Singh, who had joined the farmers’ protest on Wednesday, was found dead under suspicious circumstances yesterday morning. Singh, 36, had died at the Kundli border on Wednesday night after he fell into a ditch, said Gurmeet Singh, a leader of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (Dakaunda) from Jhaneri.
According to the reports, on Thursday morning, a day after Singh joined the farmers’ protest at the Delhi border, when some protesters were passing along the Delhi-Haryana border, they saw a body of a young man lying motionless. They informed the police about the dead body after which they reached the spot and cordoned it off, reported Bhaskar.com.
Earlier, it was widely reported by mainstream media organisations that Singh had died because of biting cold which had enveloped large swathes of northern India, including the NCR region, where protesters are continuing their agitation against the central government over the newly introduced farm bills. Several media organisations such as India Today, NDTV, The Federal and many others had echoed the same claims that Singh had died due to “freezing cold” conditions. However, it was later found out that he had died after falling into a drain.
Before this incident, the farmers’ protest took a tragic turn when another protester, a Sikh priest, allegedly committed suicide near the Delhi-Haryana border against the new agriculture laws. However, a nurse working at his dispensary had alleged that Sant Baba Ram Singh was actually killed and could not have committed suicide by shooting himself.
With the talks between the squatting protesters, who have blocked the highways and roads into the national capital, and the Centre hitting a stalemate, an attempt is being made to hustle the government into acceding to the protesters’ demand of complete rollback of the farm bills. The central government has been blamed for the unfortunate deaths and maladies suffered by the protesters due to prolonged exposure to frigid temperatures while protesting at the Singhu border.
Notably, the protests which were apparently carried out for the welfare of the farmers have been hijacked by opportunist opposition politicians in cahoots with pro-Khalistani supporters. On several instances, the protests witnessed pro-Khalistani slogans being chanted and posters of Khalistani terrorist Jarnail Singh Bhindranwale were also found in the protests.
The dangerous resemblance to Shaheen Bagh protests where deaths of protesters were used to mount pressure against the Centre
This treacherous game of proxy-war against the Modi government reminds one of the diabolical Shaheen Bagh protests earlier this year when infants and children were used as a prop by the protesters to garner sympathy from the masses and pressurise the government into repealing the Citizenship Amendment Act.
The anti-CAA protests at Shaheen Bagh had witnessed the tragic death of a 4-month-old infant due to severe cold and congestion after being exposed to the bitter cold that swept the national capital region earlier in January. The infant, Mohammad Jahan, who died on January 30, was taken to protest site at Shaheen Bagh almost every day. The Supreme Court had fumed over the incident, questioning how can a 4-month-old baby participate in a protest.
If this wasn’t enough, a video of children holding posters of Mohammad Jahan had gone viral on the social media websites. In the video, while the gullible children were holding Jahan’s pictures, Shaheen Bagh protesters in the background could be heard rationalising Jahan’s death as a ‘Qurbani’ or sacrifice for the anti-CAA movement.
This sordid ploy of using minors to coerce the central government was also used in the ongoing farmers’ protests, where children of impressionable and tender age partook in the protests in inclement weather conditions holding banners and raising slogans against the government, asking the Centre to repeal the agriculture laws.
What are the farm laws?
One of the biggest factors plaguing the growth of agriculture sector in the country is the inability of the farmer to find a market and to get a fair price to his produce. To address the issue, the erstwhile governments of different states enacted the Agricultural Produce Market Regulation Acts (APMC Acts), which authorised them to set up and regulate marketing practices in wholesale markets.
The objective of these markets was to ensure that farmers get a fair price for their produce. However, with each passing year, the APMCs turned out to be inefficient with increasing cartelisation of middlemen, ban on private players to enter the trade, increasing corruption etc.
The Modi government recently introduced three bills to promote much easier trade for the farm produce and to provide a competitive market for the producers outside the existing APMC system. The three laws were:
- The Farming Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Bill, 2020: This law aims at creating additional trading opportunities outside the APMC market yards to help farmers get remunerative prices due to additional competition
- The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020: This law relates a framework for contract farming through an agreement between a farmer and a buyer prior to the production or rearing of any farm produce.
- The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Bill, 2020: This law aims to regulate the supply of certain food items only under extraordinary circumstances.
It is pertinent to mention that the farm laws are set of three laws that allow farmers to sell their products outside APMC act (most states make it compulsory for the farmers to sell at APMC mandis). It also allows farmers to directly have a contract with corporate houses.
That farm laws don’t do away with APMC, and if someone is not willing to trust markets outside the current system, they are free to stick to the ongoing system. It doesn’t do away with MSPs either. However, the prevalent narrative that seems to be motivated by political concerns falsely claims that APMCs and MSP are being done away with.
They also allege that due to these laws, big corporations would have the upper hand in a deal with farmers, however, that again is a lie. In fact, The Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Bill, 2020 ensures that a contract is agreed upon and gives the farmer the power to even cancel contracts.