Debt-ridden farmers reeling under an agrarian crisis triggered by drought-like situation in Punjab, the land of five rivers and the food bowl of India, seem to have found solace in death.
Unable to bear the burden of repaying their crop-related loans and failing to make ends meet, as many as 20 farmers reportedly committed suicide between April 21 and 28 alone, and 47 farmers for the entire month thus far, leaving one to wonder whether the government is doing enough to contain the situation by providing relief to them.
Baljinder Singh, a farmer of Punjab’s Jagraon district, allegedly committed suicide by consuming poison on Thursday. Kawaljit Singh Khanna, a neighbour of the victim, told ANI that Baljinder committed suicide because he was unable to repay his loan.
Khanna added that the government should provide immediate relief to Baljinder’s family.
On April 27, unable to repay a loan of Rs 10 lakh and mounting interest, a farmer and his mother reportedly committed suicide by consuming disinfectants before police officials in Barnala district.
Baljeet Singh, 30, and his 60 year-old mother Balveer Kaur committed suicide after they allegedly failed to repay a loan of Rs. 10 lakh borrowed by Baljeet’s father Darshan Singh from a commission agent after mortgaging their a land of two-acre and their house.
When revenue and police officials reached Baljeet’s house to carry out the court’s order to seize their property, his mother and he ended their lives.
Kissan Sangharsh Committee vice president Sawaran Singh Pandher told ANI, “As many as 45 farmers have committed suicide in March, while 47 ended their lives in April thus far.”
“At least 20 farmers have committed suicide just within a week from April 21-28 due to debt burden, reflecting the gravity of situation in the state,” he added.
Pandher further said, “In Punjab, a total of 220 farmers have committed suicide since January, while many cases of farmers’ suicide due to debt remained unreported because their families feel that it would tarnish their image in society.”
Accusing the government of being “inconsiderate”, he alleged, “The government has done little to save the farmers from taking such an extreme step by containing the situation through relief measures to provide them immediate relief.”
Pandher alleged that the government announces a compensation and job to a family member of the victim to apply balm on their wounds, but he has never come across a victim’s kin getting a government job.
On Wednesday, opposition leaders staged a walkout in Parliament. They alleged that they were not dissatisfied with the government’s response in dealing with drought situation in various states.
The Centre claimed that it has provided adequate money to the drought affected states to deal with the situation, whereas the drought-hit states have accused the Centre of providing them with paltry resources to contain the situation and provide relief to the farmers.
Amid trading of charges between the Centre and states, debt-ridden farmers are the real suffers.