June 18, 2016 5:37:29 am
A farmer died while protesting near the Bathinda deputy commissioner’s office Friday.
Farmers, under the banner of Bharti Kisan Unions, have been on dharna outside the office since May 24 in support of a loan waiver scheme.
A few protesters told The Indian Express that the deceased, 75-year-old Ralla Singh, had been part of the protest since day one. According to them, Ralla was rushed to hospital when he did not wake up Friday morning. Doctors at the Bathinda Civil Hospital declared that he likely died of natural causes but said that a postmortem was necessary to establish the cause of death. The farmers’ body has, however, declined this until the government assured them of loan waiver for Ralla Singh’s family, Rs 10 lakh compensation and a job for his next of kin.
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“We will not allow a postmortem till the time our demands are not met,” said Sukhdev Singh, general secretary Bharti Kisan Union (Ugrahan). “They have been ignoring us since day one and now that one of our members died for the cause, they have decided to come to the table. We need them to accept our demands, without which Ralla Singh will not be cremated.
Ralla Singh, from Bodhra village of Mansa, was a farm labourer who had a debt of around Rs 50,000.
“Till now, the government has surveyed farm suicides from 2000-2011, but we want it from 1990 onwards,” said Shingaara Singh Maan, President of Bathinda unit of BKU(Ugrahan). While, the district authorities promised Rs 5 lakh compensation, the farmer body said it would settle for nothing less that what they have demanded for Ralla Singh’s family.
Sukhdev Singh added, “In Moga, from April 2013 onwards- a total of 103 farm suicide cases have been reported, but local committee has approved only 2 files out of that and similar is the case in Mansa where over 100 cases of farm suicides have been reported and less than 10 cases have been approved.”
“This is the reason that farmers have to sit on 24×7 dharnas despite this hot weather, “ said Jasveer Singh another farmer.
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