Farm suicides: No fervour in this village of widows

Sanjeev Singh Bariana
Tribune News Service

Chottian (Sangrur), April 28
“Elections don’t mean anything to us. Our numbers are too small for ballot-begging leaders to waste their time on. No leader walked the steps of my house or any of my fellow sisters, who lost the earning heads in their families,” said Amarjit Kaur, wife of Balwinder Singh who committed suicide in 2009 by drinking farm spray after he failed to repay Rs 5 lakh debt.

Amarjit Kaur is not alone. This village in Lehra sub-division witnessed eight suicides last year and a total of 67 suicides since 1998, according to a survey by the Baba Nanak Educational Society. Another widow Sulochana, mother of three girls, said: “We learnt that the government was conducting a survey two years ago to give us compensation, but nothing happened. We mean nothing to them (leaders). We will also not bother to walk up to the polling station and waste our vote.”

Karnail Kaur, whose husband Karnail Singh had allegedly gulped a bottle of pesticide right in front of her last year, said: “I have two daughters. We had 2.25 acres of land which is gone. Our tubewells have dried up and the canal water does not reach here more than twice a month. When nobody is bothered about our plight, why should we care to vote.”

Inderjit Singh Jaijee, chairman, Baba Nanak Educational Society, which is providing education to children of farmers who committed suicide, said: “Farmers with meagre landholdings are facing a severe financial crisis. Banks do not give them loans. They take money from private lenders at high rates and pay back at the time of two main harvests (kharif and rabi). In case of a failed crop, the farmers get trapped in a vicious debt circle”.

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