A 70-year-old farmer who returned to Punjab on Sunday after taking part in the ongoing agitation against the three agri laws at Delhi’s Tikri border died Tuesday morning of pneumonia. Piara Singh, a marginal farmer from village Dharampura of Mansa district, had come back via train as he had not been feeling well for a few days.
On reaching Mansa, Piara Singh was first admitted to a local hospital and later shifted to a private hospital in Sangrur where he died during treatment, his elder brother Wasaba Singh, who is also part of the protests at Delhi, told the Indian Express.
Ever since the protests against the three farm laws began mid-September, more than 50 people, including farmers and farm labourers, have died due to illness and accidents, with at least two of them dying by suicide.
Piara Singh, a member of BKU (Dakaunda) had first gone to the National capital in his tractor-trolley on November 26 following the Delhi Chalo call by farmers’ unions. He returned on December 12 and returned to the Samyukt Kisan Morcha (SKM) stage at Tikri border on December 15. His tractor-trolley is still parked at Tikri.
Gurtej Singh, a fellow villager from Dharampura, said Piara Singh’s wife had died about five years ago and he had been living with his four sons. He owned five-and-a-half acres of land.
“He was the chief sewadaar at village gurdwara and used to give the wake up call through shrine’s loudspeaker at 4 am. After protests against the laws began, he used to make announcements seeking donations and ration for the protesters. He used to motivate people to join the struggle,” said Gurtej, adding that Piara Singh is the first from the village to have died because of the protests.
Former Union minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal, under whose Lok Sabha constituency Mansa falls, hit out at Centre. “I have a question for the Centre — does it value the enforcement of the black agri laws over & above farmers’ lives?,” the Bathinda MP asked in a tweet.
Piara Singh was cremated late afternoon. The BKU (Dakaunda) has demanded a government job for a family member and Rs 10-lakh compensation.
Lawyer, who died by suicide, cremated
The mortal remains of Amarjeet Singh Rai, a lawyer who allegedly died by suicide on Sunday at Tikri border, was cremated in Jalalabad, Tuesday. Rohit Dahuja, president of Jalalabad Bar Association said, “The tehsildar has assured that demands of the farmers’ union regarding loan waiver, compensation and job to a family member will be considered. Hence, the body was cremated”.
Mansa based farm labourer Malkiat Kaur, who died in a road accident while returning to Punjab from Delhi, was alo cremated Tuesday. Bhagwant Samao, president of Mazdoor Mukti Morcha, said the mortal remains were cremated after the local tehsildaar assured that “all our demands will be considered”.