Farmers in India have been protesting against agricultural laws passed last September. Since November’s end, farmers from across the country have been camping out on Delhi borders demanding that the laws be repealed.
The Bharatiya Kisan Union (BKU), an umbrella organisation of farmers in India, has laid the foundation for a “martyrs’ memorial” where farmers have been protesting on Delhi’s Ghazipur border – the gateway to the state of Uttar Pradesh. The move is to pay tribute to the farmers who have died during the ongoing protests against the federal government’s contentious trio of farm bills.
The union says the soil for the memorial was brought by activists, mostly women, from the villages of the 320 farmers who have died during the demonstrations.
“Many died of heart ailments as they braved extremely cold weather conditions during winters in the farmer camps on Delhi borders. Few succumbed to worsening of diseases they were suffering from before they joined the protests,” Dayanand Punia, a farmer leader, told Sputnik.
On Tuesday, BKU leader Rakesh Tikait and social activist Medha Patkar laid the foundation stone for the memorial.
Dharmendra Malik, a farmer leader, said that as many as 50 activists visited the dead farmers’ villages to collect soil.
They also journeyed to the villages of freedom fighters Bhagat Singh, Sukhdev, Rajguru, Chandra Shekhar Azad, and Ram Prasad Bismil, who died contesting British rule in India before the country’s independence, to collect soil for the memorial.
There’s a deadlock between the federal government and farmers over the contentious farm laws. The government maintains that the new laws will free farmers from commission agents, giving them more options to sell their crops.
The protesting farmers, however, disagree.