Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 27
A lawyer from Fazilka poisoned himself at the Tikri border, a site of the ongoing farmers’ protests, sources said on Sunday—at least the third such incident to be reported in the last two weeks.
Sources said the victim, Amarjit Singh from Jalalabad, was immediately taken to Rohtak’s Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences, where he died. Sources also said he had previously written to Prime Minister Narendra Modi criticising the three controversial agriculture reforms the farmers are protesting.
He said in his letter, which he had addressed to “Modi, The Dictator”, he was offering himself as “sacrifice” in support of the protests, and also made a refence to the 2002 Godhra riots that killed hundreds of people, mostly Muslims.
“Listen, the voice of the people is the voice of God,” the letter said. “It is said that you wish for sacrifices like Godhra and I also offer my sacrifice in sport (support) of this wordwide agigation for the shaking of your deaf and dumb conscious (conscience),” the letter said.
At least two other such incidents reported in the past two weeks.
A 65-year-old farmer tried to kill himself at the Singhu border—another prominent site of the ongoing protests—on December 21. A prominent head priest of a gurdwara in Karnal shot himself dead at the protests last week. His suicide note attributed his action to the ongoing farmer protests. The letter said he could not bear to see the plight of protesting farmers.
A 22-year-old farmer who was part of the protests killed himself in Bathinda’s Dayalpura Mirza village a few days after the incident. In this case, the reason for the act remains unknown.
Farmers mainly Punjab and Haryana have been protesting three controversial farm laws Parliament passed in September. Farmers primarily fear that the laws would render the APMC, or the mandi system, weakened and would leave them open to exploitation. Another objection is the clause that allows contract farming, which they say could lead to losing their lands to big corporations. Centre disputes both claims.
Farmers laid siege to Delhi in November—they blocked national highways leading into Delhi and have since refused to budge. Their numbers have continued to swell since, as farmers from across the country began joining the protests. Talks with the central government have so far yielded no results, with both parties sticking to their guns—farmers want a complete repeal of the laws and another legislation to promise a minimum support price, while the central government has offered several “concessions” short of rescinding the laws.
Farmers’ unions meanwhile claim that the central government has been trying to malign the movement by calling them variously as “Khalistanis” and “urban naxals”. The central government meanwhile accuses opposition and what they claim are vested political interests of misleading protesters.