Farmers would have died even while staying back home: Haryana minister

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Chandigarh, Feb 13 (PTI) In a controversial remark over farmers' death at various protest sites, Haryana Agriculture Minister J P Dalal on Saturday said they would have died even if they had stayed back home.

Dalal made the remark in Bhiwani in response to a reporter’s query over the “death of 200 farmers”.

“Had they been at their homes, they would have died there also,” Dalal said.

“Listen to me, out of one to two lakh, do not 200 people die in six months?” he asked in response.

“Someone is dying of a heart attack and someone after falling ill,” he added.

Several Punjab and Haryana farmers, participating in farmers' agitation against the Centre's three farm laws at various Delhi border points, have died of different reasons including cardiac arrest.

Hours after making the statement, the Haryana agriculture minister said he has seen “twisted” statements, attributed to him, on social media.

He said “wrong meaning” was given to his statements.

“If anybody is hurt by it, I tender my apology,” he said, adding he would continue to work for farmers’ welfare.

He said it is painful if anyone dies.

Congress leader Randeep Singh Surjewala attacked Dalal over his remarks and said such a statement can only be made by an “insensitive” person.

“These words can only be used by an insensitive man for agitating 'annadatas',” said Surjewala in a tweet.

Haryana Congress chief Kumari Selja too slammed Dalal for his statement.

“This reaction and laughter of the Haryana agriculture minister on the sacrifice of our farmer brothers are very sad,” she said in a tweet.

Punjab Congress leader Raj Kumar Verka also demanded Dalal’s ouster from the Haryana Cabinet over huis “insensitive” remarks.

Thousands of farmers have been protesting since late November at Delhi borders with Haryana and Uttar Pradesh, demanding a rollback of the Farmers' Produce Trade and Commerce (Promotion and Facilitation) Act, 2020, the Farmers (Empowerment and Protection) Agreement on Price Assurance and Farm Services Act, 2020 and the Essential Commodities (Amendment) Act, 2020.

The protesting farmers have been expressing fear that these laws would pave the way for the dismantling of the minimum support price (MSP) mechanism, leaving them at the 'mercy' of big corporate houses.

The Centre, however, has been insisting that the new laws will bring better opportunities to farmers and introduce new technologies in agriculture. PTI CHS VSD RAX RAX