Ludhiana, April 18
Even as major political parties, taking turns in ruling the state, keep on making tall claims about the welfare of farmers and announce major relief when seeking their votes, apparently all these measures remain on paper if the data of suicides by farmers during the past eight years is any indication.
Information provided by the Department of Revenue, Rehabilitation and Disaster Management (DM 1 branch) under the Right to Information Act to Rohit Sabharwal of the Council of RTI Activists revealed that as per a survey conducted jointly by the Punjab Agricultural University, Ludhiana, Guru Nanak Dev University, Amritsar, and Punjabi University, Patiala, there were 153 farmer suicides in 2010 and 65 in 2011.
As for the number of suicides by farmers during January 2012 to March 2013, as determined during the second survey, the letter dated April 12, 2019, says that the data had been sent to the respective deputy commissioners for verification.
Further, the year-wise number of suicides as per the official record based on cases of compensation decided by the state-level committee stands at 28 (2013), 66 (2014), 160 (2015), 212 (2016), 129 (2017) and 19 (2018) with total figure at 614 suicides during 2013-18.
However, Bharti Kisan Union (Kadian) president Harmeet Singh Kadian refuted the official figures of suicides by farmers as fudged and a bundle of lies.
Maintaining that successive government – irrespective of the political party to which they belonged – had been taking farmers for a ride, he said, “Actual cases of suicides by financially-stressed farmers are not taken on record and reasons of death are often attributed to other factors – both for political reasons and denial of due compensation to kin of deceased farmers.”
Kadian said the two crucial factors responsible for farmers being forced to take extreme steps of taking their own lives are ever increasing debts – both from banks and private money lenders, and financially unviable price of the farm produce.
“No government worth its salt has made a sincere attempt to address the issues of debt burden and farm prices. On top of it, the actual number of suicides by farmers is not taken on record by those in power to hide their failure,” he added.