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Farmers' Protest: Deceased Youth's Family Blame Haryana Police; 177 Hurt at Borders Since Feb 13

'Shubh would have been alive if farmers were allowed to march peacefully to Delhi,' his uncle Buta Singh told The Wire.
Family members and well wishers gather at Shubhkaran Singh's house at Ballo village in Punjab. Shubhkharan died after being hit by a suspected rubber bullet at Haryana's borders. Photo: By arrangement.

Chandigarh: In Ballo village of Punjab’s Bhatinda district, the death of 22-year-old Shubhkaran Singh has spelt gloom.

Shubhkaran was killed at the Khanauri border near Punjab’s Patran town in Patiala district on February 21, in alleged police action. His death has led to farmers temporarily halting their march to Delhi.

Shubhkaran Singh.

Although the Haryana police is silent on his death, Patiala range Deputy Inspector General (DIG) H.S. Bhullar told reporters that Shubhkaran was suspected to have died from injuries sustained when security forces had fired rubber bullets at farmers. They did his, the DIG said, because farmers had tried to create a smokescreen to break the Haryana police’s barricade.

The preliminary inquiry by doctors at Patiala’s Government Rajindra Hospital also noted the suspicion that his death occurred due to a bullet injury.

While more clarity will come after his autopsy that is likely to take place this evening (February 22) or tomorrow, Shubhkaran’s family is shattered and have placed the blame entirely on the Haryana government for his death.

Shubhkaran’s uncle Buta Singh told The Wire that he only died because of Haryana police’s excessive action against protesting farmers.

“They were the one who created chaos by halting farmers from marching to Delhi. Shubh would have been alive if farmers were allowed to march peacefully,” said Buta.

He added that the Haryana police’s action has ruined his family. “Shubh’s father Charanjit Singh is a small farmer and has no more than 2.5 acres of farm land. The family’s financial condition is also not good. They are under heavy debt. Shubh was our only hope to take care of his aged parents and two sisters,” added Buta.

Buta added that Shubhkaran must be given official martyr status by the state government as he lost his life for a larger cause.

Family members and well wishers gather at Shubhkaran Singh’s house at Ballo village in Punjab. Shubhkharan died after being hit by a suspected rubber bullet at Haryana’s borders. Photo: By arrangement.

“Apart from this, his family must be adequately compensated. One of his sisters must get a government job. His family debt, whether to the government or private lenders, must also be waived off,” he added.

Buta said the entire village was grieving and that no one expected such a tragedy to befall such a young life.

Meanwhile, Shubhkaran’s death has taken centre stage in Punjab politics. Opposition parties, including the Congress and the Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD), have both blamed the Aam Aadmi Party government for the present situation in Punjab.

“Punjab CM Bhagwant Mann’s conspiratorial double game is responsible for the loss of this young life, the only brother of two sisters. The police of another state are allowed to assault and kill Punjabis on Punjab soil, with Bhagwant Mann collaborating with Haryana against Punjab farmers. Peaceful protest being met with bullets unheard of in a democracy. The innocent blood of Shubhkaran Singh is in Bhagwant Mann’s hands,” SAD president Sukhbur Badal alleged in a post on X.

On the other hand, CM Mann vowed to punish those responsible for Shubhkaran’s death. Mann told reporters that his government would conduct the investigation and register a first information report naming guilty officials.

Several of the AAP government’s ministers also condemned his killing as the murder of democracy.

Number of injured swells

Punjab government health officials confirmed that the number of farmers and activists injured at the borders has increased to 177.

Patiala district civil surgeon Raminder Kaur told The Wire that 141 injured farmers have been treated from Shambhu barrier and 36 from Khanauri barrier, totalling 177 so far.

She said most of the injuries were due to the dropping of tear gas shells or rubber bullet firings. Majority of them have been discharged except 10-12 patients who are undergoing treatment, she added.

“Apart from this, three casualties have been reported so far. Two died natural deaths at the protest site and one, of suspected bullet injury,” she informed.

Farmer Gian Singh from Chachoki village in Gurdaspur district was the first to die amidst the protests. He passed away from a heart attack at the Shambhu barrier in the early hours on February 16.

A 72-year-old farmer Manjeet Singh, protesting at Khanauri, succumbed to a cardiac arrest on February 19. Manjeet was a unit president of BKU (Krantikari), a member of SKM (non-political) which is leading the Delhi Chalo protest along with Kisan Mazdoor Sangarsh Committee on multiple demands including a legal guarantee to MSP.

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