More than a third of that total has died in the past three weeks during a devastating second wave fueled by a new virus variant detected in India, mass political and religious rallies and the reduction of guard by the public, according to officials and health experts. Throughout the pandemic, farmers across the country have continued to protest a series of agricultural laws passed last September, which they say will devastate their livelihoods. According to the government, reforms are needed to modernize the country’s agricultural industry. Since last fall, tens of thousands of farmers have been living in tents, located outside the capital, New Delhi. The protests disappeared a bit during the second wave, which coincided with the harvest season, causing many to return home and devote themselves to their crops.
But the harvest season is over and farmers are planning mass protests across the country on Wednesday to mark six months of their campaign.
Farmers camping on the outskirts of Delhi are protesting despite a high risk of infection for themselves, the joint committee of peasant organizations said in a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging him to repeal the laws to liberalize the agricultural sector.
“We do not want to expose protesting farmers or anyone to avoidable health hazards,” the letter said.
But the challenge of laws making farmers ’livelihoods vulnerable to business farm enterprises is a matter of life or death, he said.
Twelve opposition parties, including Congress, issued a statement saying they were on the side of farmers.
Agriculture is the main source of livelihood for approximately 58% of India’s 1.3 billion residents, and farmers are the largest electoral bloc in the country, making agriculture a central political issue.
But government officials have expressed fears that a mass rally on the outskirts of the capital could turn into a “super-diffusion” incident, as crowded political rallies held in numerous states ahead of early local elections this year or the Kumbh Mela festival. on the banks of the river Ganges last month when millions of Hindus congregated.
“Please do not act irresponsibly, this kind of protest is totally unacceptable when people’s lives are at stake,” said Amarinder Singh, chief minister of the state of Punjab, where the protests originated. of farmers, in a statement.
India reported 222,315 new cases of Covid-19 on Monday, according to its health ministry. This is significantly lower than the peak of the second wave, which exceeded 400,000 daily cases earlier this month, but remains the highest daily figure in the world.
The South Asian country has recorded a total of 26.75 million Covid-19 infections, second only to the United States.
India also reported 4,454 related deaths on Monday, bringing the death toll to 303,720.
Health experts say the actual death toll may be several times higher as Covid-19’s death is not being reported. Lots of bodies have been razed in the Ganges or found in shallow graves along the river in recent weeks.