Congress General Secretary Priyanka Gandhi on Thursday met family members of Navreet Singh, a farmer who died during the protest against the three agricultural laws in Delhi on January 26. The family of the man who was killed has alleged that he died due to police firing, but the authorities have maintained that he died after his tractor overturned.
Gandhi, who attended the prayer meeting of the farmer in a village in Uttar Pradesh’s Rampur district, said the Centre should stop viewing the demonstrations as a “political conspiracy”, reported ANI. “The three farm laws are crimes [being committed] against the farmers and should be rolled back, but the bigger crime is calling martyrs “terrorists” and viewing the farmers’ protests as a political conspiracy against [the government],” Gandhi said.
The Congress leader called the farmer a “martyr” and said his family can never “forget his martyrdom” hoping that his death was not in vain. “The pain of a parent of losing his young son is unparalleled,” she said. “A tribute to farmer Navreet Singh, who gave his life while fighting.”
Gandhi voiced support for the family saying that the farmer who died was 25 years old and the politician’s son is 20. “The country and all of us are all standing with you,” she added.
Gandhi also invoked Sikh Guru Gobind Singh to say that it was a sin to oppress somebody but to bear the oppression was a bigger crime, reported The Hindu. She said that Navreet Singh had gone to Delhi thinking that his problems would be addressed. “That if they [the protestors] were united, the government would listen,” Gandhi said. “The government would open doors to listen to what is there in the farmers’ hearts. But it didn’t happen.”
The Congress general secretary said that by not withdrawing the farm laws, the Centre was doing injustice to the farmers. “But the bigger injustice is when they describe martyrs [those who died during protests] as terrorists,” she said. “And call the farmer protest a political conspiracy against the government.”
Gandhi pointed out that the family of the farmer wanted a judicial inquiry, but added that the “government is yet to identify this movement as a real struggle”. “There is no politics behind it,” she said, reported Hindustan Times. “It is painful for our farmers”.
Opposition leaders have severely criticised the Centre for the crackdown on the farmers’ protest after the violence at the Republic Day tractor rally. Heavy security has been deployed at the three protest sites – Singhu, Ghazipur and Tikri.
The Delhi Police has also tried block access to farmers’ protest sites at the borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh by digging ditches, driving nails into roads and topping concrete barricades with razor wire. Internet services around the border have been suspended too.
The crackdown on the farmers’ peaceful agitation has also sparked international outrage. Pop star Rihanna and climate activist Greta Thunberg are among those who have expressed support for the farmers.
Meanwhile, the Centre tried to counter the global attention to the farmers’ protest on social media by coining its own hashtags. Several celebrities and ministers tweeted on Wednesday using the hashtags #IndiaAgainstPropaganda and #IndiaTogether.
Tens of thousands of farmers have been camping out on the outskirts of Delhi for over two months, demanding the repeal of the three agricultural laws passed in September. Multiple rounds of talks between farm union leaders and the central government took place, but all of them failed to end the impasse.