A 65-year-old farmer from Punjab's Tarn Taran - one of tens of thousands across the country protesting against the centre's contentious new agriculture laws - attempted suicide Monday morning at Singhu on the Haryana border by consuming a poisonous substance.
Niranjan Singh, who reached Singhu earlier today, was rushed to PGIMS (Post Graduate Institute of Medical Sciences) in Rohtak, where he was treated and is stable condition. Speaking to media after his ordeal, Mr Singh lashed out at Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
"I am feeling good. This government at least acts when an incident like suicide happens. In normal course, if a person attempts suicide, the one who pushes the victim to suicide is booked by the police. In my case, Amit Shah and PM Modi should be booked," he said.
"How will anyone survive if farmers do not?" he asked.
Also on Monday police from Punjab's Ferozepur said a farmer who had also returned from the Delhi protests died by suicide. Officials said Kulbir Singh had debts of Rs 8 lakh.
As many as 30 deaths have been reported since irate farmers braved lathi charges and tear gassing to march on the national capital late last month. At Singhu, prayers were read out Sunday before posters of some of those who died, and the day was declared Shradhanjali Diwas (Homage Day).
Among those who have died is a 22-year-old Punjab farmer, who police say died by suicide at his home in Bathinda district after returning from a protest site near the Delhi border.
Last week the priest of a gurudwara in Haryana, who had joined the farmers' protest, died by suicide; he shot himself at Kundli on the Delhi-Sonipat border, which is around 2 km from Singhu.
The priest's death triggered outrage, with Congress MP Rahul Gandhi, Punjab Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal among those attacking the centre. "The Modi government has crossed all limits of cruelty. Stop being adamant, take back the anti-farmer laws," Mr Gandhi said.
Multiple rounds of talks between the farmers and the centre have failed, with neither side willing to budge from their positions. The farmers want the laws scrapped and the centre is only open to amending more problematic sections.
Voted through parliament in September with little debate, the centre says the laws give farmers extra options to sell their produce. The farmers, however, fear the loss of MSP (minimum support price) and even their livelihoods once corporate houses enter the market.
Protesting farmers, who have already held two major national events to underline their concerns, began an indefinite relay hunger strike this morning. They have also called on their supporters to bang thalis during Prime Minister Narendra Modi's Mann ki Baat speech on December 27.