Hitting out at the centre over an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court against the farmers' parade on Republic Day, Congress leader Rahul Gandhi today referred to the deaths of those who have died after thousands started camping near Delhi's borders.
In its affidavit, the centre has underlined that "Republic Day parade disruption will be an embarrassment to the nation". Amid deadlock over the three new agricultural laws, which have now been put on hold by the Supreme Court, the farmers have threatened to intensify their agitation by taking out a massive tractor rally in the heart of the national capital and other parts of the country.
"Martyrdom of more than 60 farmers (annadatas) didn't embarrass... but Modi government is embarrassed by the tractor rally," Rahul Gandhi tweeted this afternoon. More than 60 farmers have died, according to the protesters, after the agitation began late November. While some have committed suicide, others have died while protesting amid the winter chill.
Among other opposition leaders, Mr Gandhi has been backing the protests, which has seen a huge participation of farmers from Punjab, Haryana and other states. Thousands have been demanding repeal of the laws, which farmers say will leave them at the mercy of corporates.
The top court has set up a committee for talks. All four committee members have, however, backed the contentious laws in the past. Apart from opposition, farmers have been equally critical, saying "these members have been justifying the laws".
In its affidavit, the government has said: "Agitation by farmers may not be treated as reflection on the validity of the farm laws or its efficacy for the farmers community."
The laws "were not hurriedly made", that they were the result of two decades of deliberations.
On Tuesday, the top court said: "While we may not stifle a peaceful protest, we think that this extraordinary order of stay of implementation of the farm laws will be perceived as an achievement of the purpose of such protest at least for the present and will encourage the farmers bodies to convince their members to get back to their livelihood, both in order to protect their own lives and health and in order to protect the lives and properties of others."