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Did over 700 farmers die during anti-farm bill protests at Delhi borders? A detailed analysis of the data reveals the truth

Around 700 deaths claimed by the farmer unions took place due to old age, diseases, accidents and other such reasons, and almost none of the deaths were directly linked to the farm bills or the protests against th

A lot of noise has been made around the alleged deaths of protesting farmers who participated in farmer protests against now-repealed Agriculture Laws. One of the demands that the farmer unions have put forward in front of the union and state governments is to provide compensation to the families of the farmers who died during the protest. As per reports and claims made by the farmer unions, around 700-750 farmers allegedly died during the protests.

Last month, Rahul Gandhi had presented a list of farmers who died during the protests, after the union govt said that it has no such record. The Congress leader had also that the families of the farmers be provided compensation by the union govt. While the farmers and the Congress party are demanding compensation, the fact remains that none of the farmers died due to any police action. Now, a detailed analysis of the deaths show that the actual number of deaths at the protest sites is much lower. Moreover, around 700 deaths claimed by the farmer unions took place due to old age, diseases, accidents and other such reasons, and almost none of the deaths were directly linked to the farm bills or the protests against them.

There is a blog page that has kept the record of the farmers who have lost their lives during protests. Activist and investigative journalist Vijay Patel, who goes by the handle @vijaygajera, dug deep into the list and made some startling discoveries. Vijay wrote a long thread explaining how these deaths could be padded up with unrelated deaths, questionable suicides and Covid related deaths. Death is always unfortunate. But using someone’s death for political benefit is a new low. What Vijay discovered and OpIndia confirmed from the list, the actual number of people who died at protest sites and the number of people who have been added to the list of ‘700 hundred farmers who died during protests’ need some explanation.

First of all, the number 700 has been used by the opposition, farmer unions, propagandists, and left-leaning media to paint a bad picture of the union government. Congress has propagated on the alleged deaths of 700 farmers and used it as a political tool not only during the farmer protests but also after the laws were repealed by the central government.

Out of 702 deaths checked by Vijay, only 191 of them lost their lives at the Delhi border protest sites. 340 of them died after returning home from the protest sites. It is unclear on what basis the farmer unions connected these deaths to farmer protests. Just because these protesters were present at the protest sites at the Delhi border or somewhere else before their death, alleging they died during the protest does not make any sense.

Another 108 people lost their lives while on the way to the site of the protests or on the way back home. The reasons for such deaths included hit and run cases as well. Now the question is how someone dying in an accident can be eligible to be linked to farmer protests. Lastly, 63 lost their lives at local protests and other locations.

Drowned in the river but added to the list

A farmer identified as Sukhpal Singh was mentioned in the list. According to the post, Singh had participated in the protests at the Delhi border multiple times. He was at his native place at the time of death. As per the record, Singh was out in his field for inspection when he accidentally drowned in the Beas River. There is no explanation why his death was termed as the death of a protester while he died while working in his field back home.

Died while boarding train but found a place in the list

Another farmer identified as Gurlal Singh met with an unfortunate accident at Bahadurgarh Railway Station when he was trying to board the train while returning home. As per the news reports, he was trying to board the train when he slipped and got crushed by the train. Such accidents happen only when someone tries to board a moving train. Though it was not mentioned if the train was moving, the 47-year-old died at the railway station and not at the protest site.

Another protester identified as Parma Singh also died in a train accident. Singh allegedly fell off the train and died on the spot while returning from the Tikri border.

Another farmer identified as Jaswinder Singh died while returning from the Delhi border after protests were called off. He allegedly fell off a tractor and got crushed under it.

One protester identified as Sukhwinder Singh succumbed to injuries he had sustained in a road accident. He died during treatment at PGI Chandigarh.

The suicides that need investigation

There have been 40 reported suicides on the list. Many of these suicides need investigation. Vijay shared an image of a farmer who died allegedly of suicide. It was evident there were injury marks on his face.

The first reported suicide during the protests was of Sant Baba Ram Singh on December 16, 2020. He allegedly shot himself and left a suicide note in which he claimed he committed suicide to open the eyes of the government. However, there were a lot of questions around his death.

On December 17, 2020, it was reported that while talking to an anchor of a news channel, one nurse who identified herself as Amarjit Kaur from Chandigarh raised questions over the alleged suicide. In her statement, she said that it is impossible that Sant Ram Singh can commit suicide. She further added the handwriting on the suicide note that is being shown in the news reports does not match the handwriting she has seen. Amarjit Kaur said the person who encouraged people to come out of the problems and stay strong in life could not commit suicide. She said that he used to tell people that committing suicide is not an answer to anything, and they should not do it.

The second reported death was of Kulbir Singh, who committed suicide after coming back from the protest site. As per reports, he was under stress due to debt.

The third suicide committed by a farmer under the stress of increasing debt was reported in December 2020. Gurlabh Singh committed suicide after returning from protest sites. He was under debt of Rs 6 lakh.

Another farmer Ranjeet Singh also committed suicide in February 2021 after returning from the protest site. He was under heavy debt of Rs 15 lakh. Reports suggest he had received an attachment notice from the bank.

Lakhwinder Singh Comrade also died of suicide. He was under debt of Rs 15 lakh. Even the reports had mentioned he killed himself due to debt.

The missing case of Mukesh

On June 17, 2021, it was reported that a farmer identified as Mukesh was set ablaze allegedly by his fellow farmers at Tikri Border. The deceased person had consumed intoxicants with the protestors, who set him ablaze later after picking a fight. As per reports, casteist slurs were hurled towards Mukesh, after which he was set on fire. A video of him being set on fire had gone viral on social media, where one can hear casteist abuses being thrown at him before he was set ablaze.

Reasons of death

Over 307 people died of an unknown illness that could be Covid or any other disease that the protesters picked at the protest site or at their native place. 203 people died of a heart attack, the highest among known illnesses responsible for the deaths.

Vijay mentioned in a tweet that going by the national and state average of people dying of heart attack, these deaths should have been marked as natural causes, and the government could not be blamed for them.

The record of the deaths shows that apart from Heart Attacks and unknown causes, the farmers died due to ​hit and run cases, accidents, alleged suicides, and various illnesses like pneumonia, Covid-19, brain stroke, cold stroke, stomach infection etc. The list also includes 3 murders, but it does not include Lakhbir Singh, the Dalit Sikh who was brutally murdered by Nihang Sikhs at the Kundli border protest site in October 2021.

Most of the accident cases are road traffic accident cases, which are unfortunately common on Indian roads. The victims were hit by speeding vehicles or were crushed after they fell from the vehicles they were travelling. Some of the farmers were killed by tractors brought by farmers for the protests.

Elders were lured to protest sites

A Twitter user who goes by the handle Hindavi_Swarajy had published a thread in November 2021. In the thread, he described how people had come to his house to lure his grandfather to the protest site. He refused to let his 80+-year-old grandfather go for the protests, but other elders from his area went to the protests.

He added a total of seven people lost their lives at protests sites. He said, “Unfortunately, 7 old people died sitting in protest. Instead of taking their old & ill parents to the hospital, greedy uncles and aunties of my street sent them to sit-in protest. Now they are demanding compensation like vultures & blaming Modi. Waheguru will never forgive them.”

No one can justify deaths. They are always unfortunate and take away a lot from the families. However, using the deaths for political and anti-establishment propaganda is low that no one should be gone too.

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OpIndia Staff
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