Amidst opposition parties led by the Akali Dal protesting inside and outside the Parliament against the three farm laws and advocating the cause of the farmer protests, the Centre has said no to any compensation for the families of farmers who died during the protests.
The Government of India in a written reply said it “has no such record” when asked if it was aware that a number of agitating farmers have died or fallen ill during the movement which has been on for months. It said there was no proposal hence for compensation too. “However, Government of India during discussions with farmers’ unions appealed to them that children and elders especially women should be allowed to go home in view of the cold and Covid situation,” Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Singh Tomar said.
A central government official told News18 that since law and order and the police was a state subject, the Centre would not have a record of such deaths. The matter, however, has political overtones ahead of the Punjab elections. Shiromani Akali Dal president Sukhbir Badal on July 9 said over 550 farmers had died during the agitation and that if SAD comes to power, he will give government jobs to a family member of each such farmer, free education to their children and grandchildren till post-graduation and family health insurance cover.
The Congress government in Punjab had earlier announced a compensation of Rs 5 lakh to the family of each deceased farmer and chief minister Captain Amarinder Singh said last week that 191 such families had already received the money. The chief minister had also promised jobs to the kin of such farmers, and the process was on, he had said.
The Centre, meanwhile, said it is always open to discussion with the farmers’ unions. “Government has been engaged in serious, sensitive and active discussions with the farmers’ unions to resolve the issues. During various rounds of discussions, Government continuously requested the farmers’ unions to discuss the provisions of the farm laws, so that if there is an objection to any provision, the advancement can be made towards a resolution of those. But the farmers’ unions insisted only on the repeal of the farm laws,” Tomar said in his reply.