A lawyer from Punjab, who took part in the protests against the farm laws at Delhi’s Tikri border, was found dead after he consumed pesticide on Sunday morning, reported NDTV. Two letters were found on him, one of them was addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, and the other to the protestors.
The lawyer, identified as Amarjit Singh Rai who was a resident of Jalalabad in Fazilka district, was protesting along with farmer group Bharatiya Kisan Union Ugrahan. Rai took the poison around 200 metres from the stage at the protest site, which the farmers named Gadri Gulab Kaur Nagar.
In the purported suicide note, 63-year-old Singh said he was taking his life to support the farmers protests against the Centre’s new farm laws so that the government is forced to listen to people. It said that people like the farmers and labourers were feeling conned by the three “black laws”, according to the news channel. The police is still verifying the authenticity of the suicide note, dated December 18.
“We have informed the relatives of the deceased and once they reach here, their statements will be recorded and further proceedings will be conducted,” an unidentified police officer from Haryana’s Jhajjar district told PTI. Amarjit Singh Rai’s daughter, however, said he had spoken to them on Saturday night, saying that he would return soon.
The lawyer was taken to the Bahadurgarh civil hospital and then to PGIMS Rohtak, where he was declared dead, reported The Indian Express. “We have received information regarding the death of an advocate at Naya Gaon Chowk near Tikri,” said Deputy Superintendent of Police, Badli, Ashok Kumar. “A team has been sent to look into the matter.”
Meanwhile, BKU Ugrahan Vice President Shingara Singh Maan called the incident shocking, and said that the union’s workers are always told “Khudkushi nahin, sangram [choose struggle over suicide]”. “No one should adopt this path,” he added, according to The Indian Express. “The government should wake up even now and see the writing on the wall. If they are a government of the masses, they must take back the laws.”
Tens of thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab and Haryana, have been camping at Delhi’s borders for over a month, blocking highways in giant demonstrations against the new legislations.
The farmers fear the agricultural reforms will weaken the minimum support price mechanism under which the government buys agricultural produce, will lead to the deregulation of crop-pricing, deny them fair remuneration for their produce and leave them at the mercy of corporations.
The government, on the other hand, maintains that the new laws will give farmers more options in selling their produce, lead to better pricing, and free them from unfair monopolies. The law passed in September are meant to overhaul antiquated procurement procedures and open up the market, the government has claimed.
Negotiations between farmers’ groups and the Centre has not progressed since the last meeting, scheduled to be held on December 9, was cancelled. The sixth round of discussions is scheduled for Tuesday.