Minister of Agriculture and Farmers Welfare Narendra Singh Tomar on Friday, 23 July, said that the Union government has no record of farmers who have died during the ongoing protest against the three contentious agricultural laws that had been introduced by the Centre in September 2020.
Responding to a question tabled in the Rajya Sabha on whether the government was aware of the number of farmers who have died during the protest that began last year, Tomar said "The Government of India has no such record."
"However, Government of India during discussion with farmers’ union appealed to them that children and elders especially women should be allowed to go home in view of the cold prevailing at that time and COVID situation," he added.
For eight long months, thousands of farmers from Punjab, Haryana, and Uttar Pradesh, have been protesting at three sites – Singhu, Tikri, and Ghazipur – along Delhi’s border, demanding repeal of three farm laws and a legal guarantee for the minimum support price (MSP).
Asked if the government has conducted any survey to determine the reasons behind the farmers' anxieties, Tomar observed, "No study has been undertaken to ascertain the reasons for apprehensions created in the mind of farmers on account of these farm laws. However, Government of India has proactively undertaken efforts to reach out the farmers to remove their apprehensions."
The agriculture minister stated that the government has engaged in multiple discussions with the farmers' unions in order to address their problems.
"The government has been engaged in active discussions with the farmers’ unions to resolve the issues. During various rounds of discussions, government continuously requested the farmers' unions to discuss the provisions of the farm laws, so that if there is an objection to any provision, the advancement can be made towards resolution of those. But the farmers’ unions insisted only on the repeal of the farm laws."Narendra Singh Tomar
"So far, 11 rounds of negotiations talks were held between the government and agitating farmers’ unions to resolve the issues. The government is serious and sensitive towards farmers issues," he added.
The eleventh round of talks between the farm leaders and the Centre over the laws had concluded on 22 January this year, when a 'deadlock' had been reached between the two parties.
No further conference has been held between the farmers and the Centre ever since.