Amaan Bali: Honouring The Farmers' Protest Shaheeds
The majority of the 600 deaths related to the Farmers' Protest have been of Punjabi farmers, followed by those hailing from Haryana and other states.
August 31, 2021 | 2 min. read | Original Reporting
With the death of Sushil Kajal in Haryana, the total number of farmers who have given their lives to the Farmers’ Protest climbs up to approximately 600.
Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) is collating the data as the protest has entered into the ninth month. The majority of deaths have been of Punjabi farmers, followed by those hailing from Haryana and other states.
One thing that is common among all those who have died during the demonstrations - they were not rich farmers, but rather owners of an average of 2.59 acres of land.
These small farmers have understood the impact of Modi’s three farm laws and how they will lose their livelihoods. Contrary to many Indian right-wing media claims and experts, it is not the large-scale farmer that will suffer when laws are implemented, but rather the marginal farmer who will be at the mercy of corporations.
Almost every Punjabi farmer who has died in the Farmers’ Protest has an average debt of ₹7 lakh. In most cases, this debt is non-institutionalized private loans.
The central government has not acknowledged the striking number of lives lost as a result of the Farmers’ Protest. The Haryana state government is also not sympathetic and has said the deaths are ‘normal’.
JP Dalal, Agriculture Minister of Haryana, has gone on record to say that farmers that have died during the protests would have died anyway even if they were in their homes.
The Punjab government, however, has tried to stay with farmers throughout the protests. Punjab’s legislative assembly has remembered the fallen farmers by standing in silence for them.
Captain Amrinder Singh in January announced that his government would provide jobs to one family member each of those from the state who died during the agitation at Delhi’s borders. The offer of government jobs was in addition to the compensation of ₹5 lakh that was promised to families.
Punjab’s government finally has given the orders to provide jobs to the 104 legal heirs of the farmers who died during the protests.
The SGPC also helped 153 families who lost loved ones during the demonstration, giving them ₹1 lakh each. Similarly, 23 injured farmers were provided between ₹10,000 to ₹20,000 depending upon the nature of injuries.
The cost of these deaths, however, can never be compensated. What these farmers are sacrificing cannot be adequately described.
As nine months have passed since the farmers began protesting outside Delhi, it is common to hear in Punjab those lost during the struggle be referred to as “shaheed”. Their families have only firmed up their resolve to continue the fight, rather than grieve, till the laws are withdrawn.
Amaan Bali is born and raised in Kashmir. He is an entrepreneur and author of the upcoming book, “Growing up on the right side of Kashmir History”. You can find him on Twitter at @amaanbali.
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