Hundreds of deaths in India’s farmers’ protests leave families struggling to cope

Unions say more than 600 farmers have died in the last 11 months while taking part in ongoing protests against the Modi government’s three farm laws. Sravasti Dasgupta meets families who have lost loved ones in Punjab

Thursday 28 October 2021 10:25
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<p>Manjeet Kaur pictured here with her son, 14, at their home in Bathinda district in northern India. Kaur’s husband Dhanna Singh is one of the hundreds of farmers who have died in the ongoing farmers’ protests against the Modi government’s three farm laws </p>

Manjeet Kaur pictured here with her son, 14, at their home in Bathinda district in northern India. Kaur’s husband Dhanna Singh is one of the hundreds of farmers who have died in the ongoing farmers’ protests against the Modi government’s three farm laws

Happy Singh, 23, was a “natural farmer”, his mother recalls, and represented a bright future for this family living off the land in northern India’s Punjab state.

Yet Happy was also among the millions of Indian farmers who felt compelled to march to the national capital Delhi to protest against a set of reforms, passed more than a year ago, that represent the biggest change to the agricultural economy for decades.

The long-running protests have once more come under the spotlight after a deadly incident in Uttar Pradesh state, where a group of drivers, allegedly including a minister’s son, ploughed into a group of demonstrating farmers. Four were killed, and another four people, including a journalist, died in subsequent violent clashes.

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