For the second year running, families of farmers who committed suicide have launched a five-day protest outside the offices of the deputy commissioners in 12 districts in the state, mostly in the Malwa region to press the government to award them the lawful compensation that is their due waive their loans as well.
In Bathinda, over 600 people, from over a 100 families, are now one in their demand for compensation after their solitary breadwinner ended his life due to the vagaries of the farming profession and the eccentricities of government policy.
Even as their goal is one, each protester carries a pain that is uniquely their own and bears the stamp of government apathy.
From old mothers to young widows, in the protesting crowd you will instances of real indifference and scathing pain and anger.
Carrying photograph of his 30-year-old son Gurjant Singh, Amarjeet Kaur (60), a resident of village Pitho, told this HT correspondent, "This (pointing to the photo) is my son. In 2013, he consumed pesticides after three acres of our cotton crop were damaged due to the whitefly disease. I have received no compensation yet. I am here to fight for the future of my two grandsons."
Within the protesters on Thursday, HT found that another major reason for farmer suicides, in addition to crop damage, was inability to pay loan taken for marriage of girls or sisters.
Karnail Kaur, a resident of Behman Jassa Singh village, said, "My 24-year-old son Amarjeet Singh took loan for the marriage of my three daughters (his sisters). After repeated warnings by the bank that the house could be auctioned, he ended his life."
In a damning claim against the government, she alleged, "The state government failed to provide a single penny under its 'Shagun scheme' on my daughter's marriage."
Suba Singh (57) of Virk Khurd village claimed that his son Sahib Singh (20) ended his life by jumping into a river, following a bank's refusal to give him loan for marriage of his sisters.
In another sorry tale, Sukhmander Singh, who committed suicide in 1997, still owes a loan of `2.5 lakh. The family, among the protesters on Monday, claim to have not received any assistance from the government for 28 long years.
Bhartiya Kisan Union (Ekta Ugarahan) - the organisation coordinating the protests - general secretary Sukhdev Singh Kokri claimed that the union had not bothered to pay any heed to their genuine demands leading to a spate of suicides.
"The state government is yet to share any authenticated report pertaining to farm suicides with the Centre," he claimed, adding that in addition to the loan waiver in case of a farmer suicide, the community has been demanding `5 lakh compensation and a government job to the next of the kin of the deceased in all such cases.
Interestingly, the state government has only recently decided to increase monetary assistance to `3 lakh from the `2 lakh earlier.