The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) on Friday led an eight-party delegation demanding Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla to constitute a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) to probe Union Agriculture Minister Narendra Tomar's assertion in the Parliament that the Union government did not have any record on farmer deaths during the ongoing farmers' agitation.A representation in this regard was submitted to the Lok Sabha Speaker by MPs representing SAD, BSP, NCP, CPI, CPI-M, RLP, National Conference (J&K) and Shiv Sena.Former Union minister and Bathinda MP Harsimrat Kaur Badal also requested the representatives of all the opposition parties, including the Congress, to join the delegation of MPs meeting President Ram Nath Kovind on Saturday to demand his intervention and direction to the Union government to discuss repealing of the three Central farm laws.Giving details of the memorandum submitted to the Speaker, Harsimrat said that the MPs pointed out that the Agriculture Minister had committed a serious lapse by stating that the Union government did not have any record of farmer deaths during the ongoing 'Kisan Andolan'."This amounts to whitewashing the sacrifice of the 'annadaatas' who have been agitating against the three black agricultural laws for eight months now," she said.She said the MPs were shocked that the Agriculture Minister has made this assertion despite there being clear proof of 537 farmers being 'martyred' during the course of the Kisan Andolan.
Requesting the Speaker to intervene in the matter immediately, the MPs said that Tomar should be advised to apologise to the farming community for his intemperate remarks.They said that simultaneously the Speaker should form a JPC to ascertain the details of the total number of lives lost in the ongoing Kisan Andolan and suggest ways and means to rehabilitate the victims' families.The MPs also brought it to the notice of the Speaker that the Agriculture Minister had gone on record to say that no study has been conducted to understand the apprehensions in the minds of the farmers regarding the three farm laws."This is a self admission that required steps were not taken to take feedback from the farmers and their representatives," Harsimrat said, adding that the JPC could now be tasked with collecting this feedback and submitting the same to the government for necessary action.The MPs also brought it to the notice of the Speaker that even though the hard-working farmers are protesting against the manner in which the three farm laws had been pushed through the Parliament without following a consultative process, the government has refused to either acknowledge or resolve the grievances of the farmers."In fact, repeated attempts are being made to defame the farmers and their democratic right to protest by name calling," the MPs said.The MPs also said that the JPC could go into this aspect and suggest ways and means to ensure that the voice of the farmers is heard in the Parliament, as well as by the government.