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50-year-old Punjab farmer headed to Tikri for 1-yr celebrations killed in highway accident on the way

New Delhi: As farmers from all across Punjab, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana started moving towards Delhi's borders to celebrate the one-year anniversary of their protests against the farm laws, a 50-year-old farmer, Baljit Singh, from Barnala in Punjab, was killed on his way to the Tikri border site in an accident on the Gohana-Rohtak Highway — further adding to the toll of farmers who have died during the agitation, which according to the SKM, now stands at 676.

Another farmer, aged 80, was also injured in the accident on Wednesday night when a group of farmers from Punjab had stopped for rest at a dhaba on the highway. According to officials, a speeding truck hit their trolley — killing Baljit.

After the incident, the truck driver was arrested and secured bail while the farmers there resorted to blocking the highway for a couple of hours. According to reports, Baljit was a member of the Bharatiya Kisan Union in Sidhupur and was excited to participate in the celebrations today. He had been visiting the Tikri site on and off throughout the agitation there.

But even as farmers take a moment to remember those among them who had sacrificed their lives during the movement, thousands are marching to the Capital's borders — to celebrate their resolve winning them a victory after the struggles of a whole year. Thousands of farmers from parts of both states, including Amritsar, Jalandhar, Ferozepur, Patiala, Ludhiana, Sangrur, Ambala, Hisar, Sirsa, Rohtak, Kurukshetra, Bhiwani, are reaching Delhi's borders.

BKU (Rajewal) leader Pargat Singh told reporters at the Tikri border on Thursday that thousands of farmers have reached and many more are reaching. The Samyukt Kisan Morcha, an umbrella body of various farm unions spearheading the ongoing stir, on Thursday said that the farmers' movement, which began on November 26 last year, will complete one year of its "historic struggle tomorrow".

"On the call of the Samyukta Kisan Morcha, to mark one year of the historic farm movement with massive protests at Delhi morchas and the capitals and district headquarters of distant states, farmers and workers are responding in huge numbers. Thousands of farmers have started arriving at the various morchas in Delhi," an SKM statement said. "The fact that such a long struggle has to continue is a clear reflection on the insensitivity and arrogance of the Union government towards its toiling citizens," it said.

"Over the course of 12 months of one of the largest and longest protest movements across the world and in history, crores of people took part in the movement which spread to every state, every district and every village of India," the SKM said. Apart from the government's decision and Cabinet ratification of repeal of the three "anti-farm laws, the movement achieved several victories for farmers, common citizens and the nation at large," it said.

The SKM said the movement created a sense of unified identity for farmers, cutting across regional, religious or caste divisions.

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