Though farmer Hardev Singh, 65, of Korawal village in Mansa district, committed suicide on Thursday due to debt, yet his two sons Gurwinder Singh (18) and Harwinder Singh (17) intend to engage themselves in farming.
The farmer took the extreme step by jumping into a well as he was facing a financial crisis due to his treatment as he was suffering from hepatitis C. "We had three acres of land, out of which we sold one-and-a-half acres of land for our mother's treatment, who was suffering from cancer, and was undergoing treatment in Bikaner. She lost her life in 2010. Later, my father was diagnosed with hepatitis C for which he approached doctors in Patiala and Bathinda," said his eldest son Gurwinder Singh.
His son added that his father was so distressed that he attempted suicide 3-4 days before he against took the extreme step on Thursday.
But, life doesn't seem to be a cakewalk for the two youngsters as the elder one works as a driver and earns a a meager income of Rs 4,000. "I work as a driver for some rich peasants in my village while my younger brother used to take care of my father. We have mortgaged half an acre of land while one acre of our land is under contract farming through which we earn around Rs 18,000 annually," said Gruwinder Singh.
He said that they do want to do farming themselves but due to non availability of canal water they have given it on contract. "We also cannot afford to install a tubewell or any other source of water."
Last month, two farmers reportedly committed suicide in Burj Dhilwan village. One of the victims Jagjit Singh (37), who owned six kanal land allegedly ended his life by consuming poison on May 31. In the same village, another farmer Baldev Singh (45) allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself at his house on May 26.
No compensation given to suicide victim families
The families of those farmers who have committed suicide during the last one year have been demanding compensation for the last few months but the administration doesn't even have proper record of the same. Punjab Agricultural University. Ludhiana, was assigned the job of carrying out an independent survey to find out the actual number of suicide cases involving farmers.
"After the survey, a report was submitted, we again protested in Bathinda to get compensation for around 700 farmers, who had committed suicide till 2009," said Ram Singh Behnibagha, leader of the Bharat Kisan Union.
The district administration says that they have not compiled the records of farmer suicides committed since 2013. "We have not done any survey to determine the number of farmer suicides, though we keep receiving applications for the same. The applications are then sent to the respective sub-divisions for verification," said an employee of the deputy commissioner's office.