Farmers pause march to Delhi, demand justice for deceased youngster

Ongoing agitation intensifies as farmers stand firm in their demand for fairer prices

Farmer protest in 2021 / Image-Unsplash

In a significant development as the farmer's protest enters its second week, the groups leading the march to Delhi  from Punjab have decided to pause activities until February 29.

This decision comes after the tragic death of 21-year-old farmer Shubh Karan Singh earlier this week. According to various media reports, the groups assert that they will not allow an autopsy or the cremation of the deceased until the Punjab Police files a case against the police in Haryana.

Karan Singh's family, as per multiple media reports, has rejected a ₹1 crore (US$ 120,643) compensation offered by the Punjab government, demanding the registration of a First Information Report (FIR) before accepting any financial assistance.

The tragic incident occurred at one of the two borders where farmers have been contained by police forces since February 13. Karan Singh sustained a fatal wound, ostensibly from a rubber bullet fired during a police action as farmers attempted to breach barricades in their pursuit to resume their march towards Delhi.

The escalating tensions led to four rounds of talks between the protesting farmers and the government, including discussions with three Union ministers, all of which ended in a deadlock.

Farmers have been protesting for various demands, including a legal guarantee for the minimum support price (MSP) for crops. Despite the impasse in talks with the government, farmers remain resolute in their determination to continue the agitation for higher crop prices at the two interstate border points beyond February 29.

Farmers’ leader Sarwan Singh Pandher emphasized that further actions would be decided after this date.

In response to Karan Singh's death, farmer leaders also planned a candle march. Additionally, seminars on issues related to farmers are set to take place on February 25, while effigies of the World Trade Organization and the Central government will be burnt on February 26 as symbolic gestures of protest.

Several meetings of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (Non-Political) and Kisan Mazdoor Morcha (KMM), the leading farmer groups, are also slated for the next two days. The events of the past week spurred the involvement of the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM), previously uninvolved, adding momentum to the protest.