At a time when land acquisition has snowballed into a major political issue across the country, a local couple committed suicide over the Punjab government's attempt to forcibly acquire their land for the widening of National Highway-71 (Sangrur-New Delhi route).
Satgur Singh, 44, a labourer at a brick kiln, and his wife Rani Kaur, 22, died at Rajindra Medical College and Hospital, Patiala, 60 km from here, while their daughter Gurpreet Kaur, 16, is battling for life at the hospital. They all consumed poison allegedly under a suicide pact after the local land acquisition officer issued a notice that the state government would acquire the land on which they had built a house at Mehlan in Sunam division of Sangrur district.
The couple's 12-year-old son, Sukhchain Singh, was at school when the family took the extreme step. Their second daughter, aged 19, is living at her grandmother's house in Mansa, about 50 km from here.
Satgur was under stress after getting the notice, said his nephew, Jagsir Singh, who also works as a brick-kiln labourer. "This bolt from the blue came when he was planning to get his two daughters married," Jagsir added. He said the family members were first taken to the Sunam hospital, from where they were shifted to Patiala.
The Punjab government, on behalf of the National Highways Authority of India (NHAI), is acquiring land for the widening of the Sangrur-New Delhi road, which passes through Sunam.
Meanwhile, deputy superintendent of police (DSP) Manjit Singh said no suicide note had been recovered so far. "Some say poverty drove the family to suicide, while others claim it was due to land acquisition. We will register an FIR after the statements of family members are recorded and the postmortem is conducted," he added. He said a police party had been sent to Patiala for the purpose.