Haryana Home Minister Anil Vij on Monday informed the state Assembly that 68 people died during protests against the Centre’s farm laws at the state borders with Delhi, PTI reported. For over three months, farmers have been protesting at Tikri, Singhu and Ghazipur borders of the national Capital.

Vij said 21 people who died were from Haryana, while 47 were residents of Punjab. Of these, 51 died due to health problems, 15 in road accidents and two died by suicide till February 18, he added.

The state’s home minister said the government was not considering any proposal to give them the status of a martyr. He was replying to questions raised by Congress MLAs Aftab Ahmed and Indu Raj Narwal.

Farm law protests

Thousands of farmers have camped outside Delhi since December, demanding Prime Minister Narendra Modi repeal the three laws that open up the country’s agriculture markets to private companies. Farmers fear the policies will make them vulnerable to corporate exploitation and would dismantle the minimum support price regime.

Farmers held a blockade at five points on the 135-km-long Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway, connecting five districts of Haryana, on March 6 to mark the 100th day of their agitation. The same day, Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar had reiterated that the Centre was willing to make changes to the legislations in order to respect the sentiments of protesting farmers.

The farmers have hunkered down with supplies that they say will last them for months, and have resolved to not leave until their demands are met.

Several rounds of talks between the government and farm leaders took place, but none of them could manage to end the deadlock. In January, the Supreme Court had suspended the implementation of the laws until further orders.

The movement poses one of the biggest challenges to Modi since he took power in 2014, as he faces criticism from all sides, including from some allies of the Bharatiya Janata Party. The Shiromani Akali Dal of Punjab quit the ruling National Democratic Alliance at the Centre in September itself.

Another sign of impact was the Congress’ spectacular performance in the urban body polls held in Punjab last month.