Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh on Sunday criticised Haryana Agriculture Minister JP Dalal and Union minister Narendra Singh Tomar for their statements on the farmers who died during the protests near Delhi, PTI reported. Singh said that the Bharatiya Janata Party had lost its moral ground to rule.
On Saturday, the Haryana agriculture minister had said that the farmers would have died even if they were back home. Tomar, on the other hand, told the Parliament earlier this month that the Centre won’t provide compensation to the families of the farmers who died during the protest. He also said the government has no data about the deaths of farmers.
Singh said that these statements reflected the BJP’s “shocking” lack of concern for the farmers who carried on their around-the-clock sit-ins despite cold weather and police violence while fighting for their livelihood. “The Bharatiya Janata Party-led government at the Centre should step down in the interest of the nation, as should the ML Khattar government in Haryana,” Singh said, according to PTI.
The Punjab chief minister lashed out at the Centre for denying financial aid to the farmers’ families. “It was deplorable that a government that can spend Rs 8 crore on the publicity campaign for the new farm laws cannot give compensation to the families of the farmers who have sacrificed their lives in fighting for their rights,” Singh said. He added that only the Punjab government has provided compensation to more than 100 families.
Referring to Tomar’s statement about the lack of data on farmer deaths, Singh said, “What kind of government is this that has no data (or so it claims) of people dying on the streets in their own country?”
Singh said it was appalling that a government that claimed to be working for the farmers has not maintained count of farmer deaths. He added that a few months ago, the government had no idea about how many migrant workers died during the coronavirus-induced lockdown.
He accused Tomar of making a false statement in the Parliament. “Either the agriculture minister deliberately lied on the floor of the House or simply does not care to even ascertain the facts and figures,” Singh added.
On February 5, Tomar had told the Rajya Sabha that farmers belonging to only one state were protesting against the agricultural laws. He again claimed that there was nothing wrong with the laws and the protestors were just being misled about them.
Thousands of farmers, mostly from Punjab, Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, have been camping at Delhi’s border points for over two months, seeking the withdrawal of agricultural laws passed in September. The protests had largely been peaceful but violence erupted on January 26, when a tractor rally planned to coincide with Republic Day celebrations turned chaotic. More than 100 protestors have been arrested in connection with the violence and several are missing. The police have now heavily barricaded the protest sites.
The farmers believe that the new laws undermine their livelihood and open the path for the corporate sector to dominate agricultural. 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.