The Centre on Tuesday informed the Lok Sabha during the Budget session that it will not compensate the families of farmers who lost a member during the protests against the agricultural laws, reported Live Law.
The submission was made in response to the queries of several MPs about whether the government proposes to offer compensation to the families. The Ministry of Agriculture & Farmers Welfare said, “No Sir”.
The ministry added that the central government, during discussions with farm leaders, had “appealed many times” that children and elders, including women, should return back home “in view of the cold and Covid situation and other hardships”.
Thousands of farmers have camped on the outskirts of Delhi for over two months, braving the cold and rain, in a largely peaceful protest against the new agriculture laws.
As many as 70 of them have reportedly died, several of them due to biting cold weather as they camp out in the open in their tractors and trailors. Some of them died in separate road accidents as they travelled from different states to participate in the protests. At least three died by suicide, “to express anger and pain against the government’s injustice”.
On January 12, the Supreme Court while hearing a clutch of pleas on the farmer protests, had disapproved the presence of senior citizens, women and children at protest sites. The court observed that they were “exposing themselves to serious health hazards posed by cold and Covid”.
It later accepted a submission from a lawyer in court who claimed “that elders, women and children will be dissuaded from being there at the site of protest”. The comments had provoked responses from many, pointing out that paternalistic tone towards women – who account for vast numbers of the farming community in India.
On Monday, the Centre had reiterated in the Lower House that the it does not propose to end the minimum support price regime. “No Sir, the Government does not have any proposal to end MSP,” the agriculture ministry said in response to a question asked by Bharatiya Janata Party MP Mukesh Rajput.
At the heart of the farmers’ protests are fears that the government’s moves to introduce market reforms will leave them at the mercy of corporations. They say the new legislation is not clear on whether the government will continue to the minimum guarantee prices for certain essential crops. While the government has repeatedly said it is willing to pledge the guaranteed prices will continue, the farmers remain skeptical.