The government of India has no record of farmers having died or fallen ill during the ongoing protests over the new laws, Parliament was told on Tuesday, July 20.
“However, the Government of India during a discussion with farmers’ Union appealed to them that children and elders especially women should be allowed to go home given the cold and COVID situation,” said Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar in a written answer.
The minister was answering a question raised by several Members of Parliament through an unstarred question in Lok Sabha.
An unstarred question is one to which a written answer is desired by an MP and is deemed to be laid on the Table of the House by a minister.
Tomar also added that since the Centre has no record of farmers having died during the agitation, there is no proposal for compensation to such families.
“Till date, 582 farmers have died in the ongoing struggle,” claimed Hannan Mollah, general secretary, All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), expressing surprise over the statement.
“A democratically elected government is supposed to take care of citizens, but this government is treating 80-crore peasants of this country as enemies of the state,” he alleged.
The minister assured the House that the government is ready for discussions.
“Government engaged itself actively and constantly with the agitating farmer's unions to end the protests and 11 rounds of negotiating talks were held between the Government & agitating farmer unions to resolve the issues...,” stated Tomar.
“Farmer Unions never agreed to discuss the farm laws excepting for demanding their repeal. Government is always open to discussion with farmers Union and will remain open to discussion with agitating farmers to resolve the issue,” his statement added.
On their part, the Samyukta Kisan Morcha (SKM) – the umbrella of farmer unions organising the protests – have also sought the revival of the talks. However, they insist that the government has to be flexible on a complete roll-back of the laws.
The contentious laws are The Farmers’ Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, The Farmer's (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement On Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020, and The Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.
The unions have also sought changes in Air Quality Management in National Capital Region and Adjoining Areas Ordinance, 2020, withdrawal of the proposed Electricity (Amendment) Bill, 2020, and the legalisation of Minimum Support Price (MSP).