Cases of suicide by farmers due to debt continue to be reported in the district despite political leaders’ visits to the houses of the farmers who have committed suicide and the government’s claim of implementing pro-farmer policies.
During the last three months, around 14 cases of suicide by farmers have been reported from the district while only one case has been considered eligible for compensation.
The state government had earlier announced the make payment of compensation the same day, but this poicy seemed to have flopped as most of the agrrieved families alleged that they have not yet received compensation despite submitting all the required documents.
The family of Gurtej Singh, who committed suicide in 2014, said that they have still not received the compensation. “Gurtej had committed suicide in October 2014 and despite submitting all the required documents we have not been given the compensation amount,” said one of his family members when the HT contacted them. However, the district administration, that claimed to have provided compensation to around 15 families, contradicted the claims of Gurtej’s family.
“We had distributed around Rs 42 lakh as compensation amount to the aggrieved families and Gurtej Singh’s family is one of the beneficiaries,” said one of the officials of the administration, who maintains the record of beneficiaries.
But Gurtej’s family continued to claim that they did not receive any compensation.
HT has learnt that till now the administration has received applications of around 226 cases of suicide out of which only 15 have been given compensation.
During the past 6 months, the district has seen a number of political leaders such as Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, AAP member of Parliament Bhagwant Mann, Congress leaders Jagmeet Brar, Ravneet Bittu etc. visiting the families of such farmers but tragic deaths don’t seem to end.
The farmers feel that such visits don’t serve any purpose and it ends up being a photo-op for these politicians. “If a member of any family commits suicide, we expect some assistance from the establishment. However, leaders pay visits, make tall promises and then vanish in the air,” said a farmer of Bhaini Bagah village. Others feel that the families political leaders visit have more chances of getting compensation without a fuss.
AAP leaders had highlighted two such cases of suicide in the district, out of which one family from Sahnewali village was considered for compensation.
“The district administration, which approves and recommends suicide cases for compensation, demands an FIR copy and evidence of bank loans from the family. However, there have been cases where one family had received compensation without these documents while the other was denied the same despite having all the documents,” alleged another farmer.
Meanwhile, representatives of a farmers’ union have criticised Union food processing minister Harsimrat Kaur Badal for calling their protest as a political stunt.
District president of BKU (Ugrahan group) leader Ram Singh Bhaini Bagha said that the Union minister has changed her tunes after the NDA came to power at the Centre. “She had vehemently criticised the Congress-led UPA for ignoring farmers of Punjab. However, afte the BJP-led NDA came to power, she claimed that farmers didn’t need the assistance of the Union government. And, if she claimed to be a pro- farmer leader, why her party did not implement the Swaminathan commission report promising the implementation of which the BJP came to power.”