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At Least 22 Dead In Protest Against Indian Farm Laws

At least 22 protestors have died, several of them due to the biting cold weather, during the three-week agitation by farmers on the Indian capital’s borders.

A spokesman for farmers’ unions, spearheading the agitation, said on Friday.

At least five farmers died in accidents on their way to join the protests, some died of heart attacks and several from illnesses brought on by exposure to the freezing north Indian winter, Ashutosh Mishra, spokesman for the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee said.

Tens of thousands of farmers, largely from Punjab and Haryana, have been parked on various highways on Delhi’s borders since the end of November, demanding the rollback of new farm laws they say will help big corporations and leave them at the mercy of the free market.

The laws passed by parliament in September were aimed at loosening rules on the pricing, storage and marketing of crops.

India’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government says the laws passed by parliament in September are part of reforms of the agriculture and allied sectors.

It added that it would enhance the incomes of farmers, remove middlemen and bring in private investment.

Several rounds of talks between the government and farmers’ union leaders to resolve the impasse have so far failed.

The farmers, many of them elderly, along with women and children have been eating on the roads and sleeping in makeshift arrangements in tractors, trolleys and tents.

Cold wave conditions sweeping across northern India with temperatures, plummeting from three to four degrees Celsius at night, have made the situation worse, Mishra said.

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