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Delhi Chalo: Another Farmer Dies at Khanauri Border; Sikh Diaspora Condemn Modi Govt's Attitude

The 62-year-old, who died of cardiac arrest, is the fourth casualty of Delhi Chalo Morcha.
Farmers and workers' protest in Punjab on November 27, 2023. Photo: X (Twitter)/@mishra_surjya

Jalandhar: An elderly farmer Darshan Singh (62) of Amargarh village, Bathinda district died of cardiac arrest at Khanauri border on February 23, becoming the fourth casualty of Delhi Chalo morcha.

Darshan Singh had been camping at Khanauri border ever since the Sanyukt Kisan Morcha (nonpolitical) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM) led by Jagjeet Singh Dallewal and Sarvan Singh Pandher had given a call for Delhi Chalo morcha on February 13. The farmers have called this protest to press the central government to accept their demand of legal guarantee of minimum support price (MSP) for crops, farm loan debt waiver among others.

It was learnt that Darshan Singh had recently solemnised the marriage of his son and he had a debt of around Rs 8 lakh on him. The elderly farmer felt unwell on Thursday night and breathed his last at a local hospital.

Expressing grief over the demise of Darshan Singh, the coordinator of KMM Sarvan Singh Pandher said that Darshan Singh died of cardiac arrest. “Darshan Singh is the fourth martyr of the farmers’ protest. The government must give Rs 5 lakh compensation to his family, the way they did in the case of two other elderly farmers who too lost their lives at the Delhi Chalo morcha,” he said.

Earlier on February 21, a young farmer Shubhkaran Singh reportedly died of a bullet injury while protesting at the Khanauri border. The farmers had announced to move to Delhi on February 21, when Shubhkaran Singh was killed while many others sustained severe injuries.

Meanwhile, the family of Shubhkaran Singh has reportedly refused to accept the ex-gratia of Rs 1 crore and a government job to his sister and said, “We will not accept the ex-gratia and the government till the government registers an FIR against the Haryana Police.” This was shared by one of Shubhkaran’s uncles, who addressed the media on this issue along with KMM leaders Jagjeet Singh Dallewal and Sarvan Singh Pandher.

Notably, in the past 10 days, two elderly farmers namely Manjeet Singh and Gyan Singh had lost their lives at the protest sites.

Canadian gurdwaras condemn Indian government’s crackdown against farmer activists

The delegation of the British Columbia gurdwaras Council wrote a letter to the Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Melanie Joly and urged her to condemn India’s violent crackdown against farmer activists and raise this issue with the High Commission of India in Canada

In the letter, the council members wrote: “We are writing to raise concerns regarding paramilitary troop mobilization at Punjab-India and the repression of farmer activists in recent days. We urge you to immediately raise this issue with the High Commission of India in Canada to ensure that civil liberties and fundamental rights are protected. Communities across Canada are concerned about the possible escalation of violence, as well as the draconian measures being implemented to repress the freedom of expression and democratic assembly.”

A photo of the farmers’ protest. Credit: Photo: Special Arrangement

The council members mentioned that since February 13, 2024 farmer activists from across the Indian subcontinent have been protesting against the government’s lack of action on numerous policy issues to ensure the livelihood of farmers. Despite written commitments to do so in 2021, the government has since failed to take any concrete action in this regard. Instead, the government of India has responded with a marked escalation in its repression of political dissent-deploying drones, tear gas, live ammunition, incendiary devices, and other weaponry against unarmed demonstrators. One 21-year-old activist was murdered by police today while hundreds have been seriously injured over the past week.

Canada has claimed a role in condemning human rights violations and promoting the right to protest in places like China, Saudi Arabia and elsewhere. Canada must fulfill this responsibility to express its concerns with India as well. The rise of violent xenophobic rhetoric by government officials and unchecked mob violence targeting Sikhs, Muslims and other minorities continues to increase day by day, raising alarm amongst numerous experts about the real possibilities of renewed genocidal violence in the sub-continent.

The recent murder of Bhai Hardeep Singh Nijjar by Indian agents in Canada demonstrates that continued impunity and a lack of accountability only serves to embolden the Indian regime in its violent repression of minorities and political dissidents.

UK MP raises voice against the killing of farmer Shubhkaran Singh

Earlier on February 22, 2024, the UK’s first Sikh MP Tanmanjeet Singh Dhesi also raised his voice against the killing of 21-year-old young farmer Shubhkaran Singh from Balloh village, Bathinda district.

Dhesi is known for raising his voice against human rights abuses. During the previous farmer’s protest in 2021, Dhesi had called a special session of the UK parliament to discuss the central government’s policies against the farmers.

In his address, Dhesi said, “Many of my Slough constituents, including members of the Sikh community and local gurdwaras have written to me regarding their safety concerns about the safety of protesting farmers in their attempt to march towards the Indian capital, New Delhi. Yesterday, a protester was killed during a reported standoff with the police, wherein the cause of death was and I quote; “a bullet wound to the head.”

Dhesi further said: “The Punjab Health Minister confirmed that a second boy had also sustained a bullet wound, but luckily, he has survived, with another 13 being treated for injuries in hospitals. And today, the BBC have reported that X, Twitter, admitted to being compelled against their wishes to take down legitimate posts and accounts of activists. So does the leader of the house agree with me that freedom of expression and safety of protestors and their human rights must be protected, and what representations has the government made to its Indian counterparts to that effect?”

Responding to Dhesi’s question, the leader of the house assured that the government does support the right to protest and to be able to do so in safety. “I shall make sure that the Foreign Office has heard his concerns, and ask the relevant minister to get in touch with his office.”

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