Protesters Set Fellow Demonstrator on Fire in India Amid Clash Over Farming Laws

A demonstration in India protesting farming laws took a dark turn late Wednesday night after a protester was set on fire and died, local India news sources reported.

The protester was identified as 42-year-old Mukesh, who—according to his brother, who is unnamed—went to the protest around 5 p.m. local time. He allegedly told his brother some people got him intoxicated.

OpIndia reported that villagers in Kasar had said that lighting Mukesh on fire was an act of conspiracy designed to make him a "martyr" against the farm laws.

Farm Law Protesters at Tikri set a villager who drank with them on fire after a dispute.He Dies of burns. Name of Died person is Mukesh from Kasar Village #FarmerProtest #BreakingNews

— Amish Devgan (@AMISHDEVGAN) June 17, 2021

According to a local report, a video on social media showed some protesters throwing casteist slurs at Mukesh, before dousing him with fuel and setting him on fire.

The Haryana police are investigating the incident and have at least one suspect. The local report stated that right after Mukesh was rushed to the hospital, he told his brother that a man "named Krishna (wearing white clothes) first made him drink alcohol and then set him on fire."

It was said in the statement that his brother had been to farmers' protest where he was set ablaze, he had named some people. Postmortem has been done. Further probe will be done on basis of facts. It has been told to us that the accused are from Jind: Police officer Jaibhagwan

— ANI (@ANI) June 17, 2021

OpIndia reported that protesters have been illegally squatting by the public roads and grounds along the Tikri border since November to protest against farm reforms.

This is not the first demonstration to result in tragedy. In January, a demonstration turned violent after protesters broke through police barricades and stormed Delhi's historic Red Fort complex. The report stated that one protester died and at least 500 police officers were injured.

"These farmers should be moved away so that our mothers and daughters are safe," said Sarpanch Toni Kumar, according to OpIndia. "They come in group[s] of four to urinate even though there is no toilet here. They move around shamelessly in fields. Sometimes they come in mob[s] of 20. They play loud music all night long and drink. It has been six months now. We do not feel safe."

Bills were passed last September aimed at loosening rules around the sale, pricing and storage of farm produce. The BBC reported that these rules have protected India's farmers from the free market for decades, but now it threatens the entire concept of wholesale markets and assured prices, and farmers fear that it could quickly lead to a loss of their private properties and freedom.

"This is a death warrant for small and marginalized farmers," Sukhdev Singh Kokri, a farmer, told BBC Punjabi. "This is aimed at destroying them by handing over agriculture and market to the big corporates. They want to snatch away our land. But we will not let them do this."

Newsweek reached out to Haryana police for comment.

Farmers in Beas, India, shout slogans as they make their way along a road to Delhi to join farmers who are continuing the protest against the central government's agricultural reforms on May 28, 2021. Protesters lit another demonstrator on fire on Wednesday. The victim died of his injuries. NARINDER NANU/AFP via Getty Images