New Delhi | Jagran News Desk: In what could raise the alarm among the health authorities, a farmer, who was protesting against the three contentious farm laws near Delhi's Singhu border, died on late Tuesday night due to COVID-19.

The farmer, as per the officials, has been identified as 50-year-old Balbir Singh. Apart from Balbir, another farmer, identified as 70-year-old Mahender Singh, also died on Tuesday but he has tested negative for the virus.

Sonipat Chief Medical Officer Jaswant Singh Punia, as quoted by news agency PTI, said Balbir had been suffering from fever for a couple of days. He was declared brought dead at a government hospital and a test revealed that he had COVID, said Punia.

Thousands of farmers, mainly from Punjab and Haryana, are protesting against the three farm laws passed by the Parliament on the outskirts of Delhi since November last year. The farmers, despite repeated appeals from the central government, have refused to end their stir, fearing concerns among the authorities that the protests can become a super spreader of COVID-19.

With India reeling under the impacts of the second COVID wave, the Haryana government last month also announced that it will test all farmers protesting at the protest sites in the state and get them vaccinated.

However, the farmers had refused to get tested, adding that the agitator himself will decide whether they want to get tested or not. However, they had allowed the Haryana government to ramp up the vaccination drive at the protest sites.

"Similarly, there should be no compulsion regarding vaccination. Farmers who want to be vaccinated are free to approach the centres opened by the government near the site or anywhere they want and get themselves vaccinated," farmer leader Dr Darshan Pal was quoted as saying by The Print.

India currently has been hit by the second wave of the pandemic that has led to an unprecedented spike in daily cases. On Thursday, it reported 2.76 lakh fresh infections 3,874 deaths that pushed its cumulative caseload and toll to 2.23 crore and 2.87 lakh respectively.

Posted By: Aalok Sensharma