At least 22 protesters have died during the farmers’ protests on Delhi borders over the past 20 days, said Sanyukt Kisan Morcha. The agitating farmers said that the deaths have occurred mainly due to cold wave conditions as farmers have been exposed to extreme weather conditions at Tikri and Singhu borders.
“There have been about 25 deaths so far,” Yadav (director-general of police in the northern Haryana state) said, one of them being death by suicide two days ago. “Fourteen deaths were due to natural causes, mostly heart attacks and cold.”
The police officer said at least 10 people died in separate road accidents as they travelled from Punjab and Delhi states to participate in the protests.
However, farmer leader Darshan Pal told Al Jazeera the “number of dead could be as high as 35”. He said they died in the struggle against the “black [farm] laws” which farmers say will erode their incomes and help big corporations.
At least five farmers died in accidents on their way to join the protests, said Ashutosh Mishra, spokesman for the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee.
The farmers, many in their sixties or above, have been braving North India’s harsh winter to camp out in the open with their tractors and trailers parked bumper to bumper.
Cold wave conditions sweeping across northern India with temperatures plummeting to three to four degrees Celsius (37-39 degrees Fahrenheit) at night have made the situation worse, Mishra said.