Depressed by the low yield of wheat, a farmer commits suicide; 14th such death in Punjab in April


Depressed by the poor wheat yield this season, a 40-year-old farmer is believed to have died by suicide after consuming a poisonous substance in Hoshiarpur district of Punjab, police said on Saturday. With that, Punjab has witnessed 14 farmer suicides, including 11 from Malwa region, in April alone, according to the state’s largest agricultural union.

The latest incident took place in the village of Paddi Sura Singh on Friday night, Deputy Superintendent of Police (Garhshankar) Narinder Singh said. A suicide note was recovered from farmer Manjit Singh in which he said he was taking the extreme measure due to low wheat yield this season, he added.

Manjit owned a small piece of land and had taken 18 acres on a contractual basis. He owed Rs 17 lakh to the banks. Manjit is survived by his wife and two sons, his brother Sarabjit said and demanded that the state government provide proper compensation.

According to data compiled by BKU Ugrahan, 14 farmers died by suicide in different parts of Punjab.

Shingara Singh Maan, Vice President of BKU Ugrahan said, “Farmer Randhir Singh from Bhagivander village in Talwandi Sabo ward of Bathinda district was found dead in the village pond on 21st April. He was facing a financial crisis due to the low yield of wheat.

Earlier, on April 20, farmer Jaspal Singh, a resident of Maiserkhana village in Bathinda, committed suicide by jumping in front of a train. He took an extreme step as he was unable to repay a loan of Rs 9 lakh his family took out from a private bank.

On the same day, Gurdeep Singh (28) from Mansa Khurd village in Bathinda allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself in a tube well engine room. He was a marginal farmer with two acres of land and had leased six acres. Gurdeep had an outstanding loan of around Rs 3.25 lakh.

On April 18, Ramandeep Singh (38) from Bajak village in the same district died in a private hospital where he was undergoing treatment. He allegedly consumed pesticides on April 14 due to mental stress from a low wheat yield, according to his family.

Notably, wheat farmers in Punjab have witnessed reduced yield and shriveled grains due to the early onset of the heat wave. The low wheat crop yield has been a double whammy for many cotton belt farmers whose crop has been affected due to the pink bollworm attack.

The farm suicides, meanwhile, have mounted political pressure in the state, with former Punjab Congress speaker Navjot Singh Sidhu targeting the ruling Aam Aadmi party, reminding him of his pre-election promises. Sidhu, who visited the families of two suicide victims in Bathinda villages on Friday, reminded AAP official Arvind Kejriwal of his pre-election speech when the Delhi CM said that “no farmer in Punjab will commit suicide after April 1”, if his party were voted in power.

Interacting with farmers under a party initiative – ‘Kisana naal Kejriwal di galbaat’ – in Punjab last year, Kejriwal said: “After April 1, 2022, no farmer or farm worker in Punjab will die by suicide due to a bad harvest. This is my promise and Kejriwal does what he says”.

He had also promised that “by April 30, crop loss compensation will be credited to the account of every affected farmer and worker; we will make agriculture a dignified profession. We will make it profitable”.

On Saturday, Sidhu lashed out at the PAA official, asking him to stop lying. “Seven farmers committed suicide in one district, imagine the fate of farmers in 28 districts. Have you visited a family? Where is your responsibility and concern for Punjab now? Where is the compensation for farmers promised? Practice what you preach,” the congressional leader said in a tweet.

The former CCP leader said farmers are going through an unprecedented crisis. “Yields are down, input costs have gone up many times over and (there has been) no change in the MSP. Farmers are killing themselves. Policy change is needed,” he said in another tweet.

“I don’t want to point fingers at anyone but… I want to remind the AAP government… They had made big promises before forming the government. Kejriwal claimed to give compensation of Rs 1 crore to every farmer in Delhi so let AAP give even 50% of what they give Delhi to Punjab,” he said.

Earlier, after visiting Jaspal Singh’s family, Sidhu said the farmer committed suicide due to low crop yield. “10 years ago, his elder brother committed suicide due to crop loss from fake pesticide. Urge the Punjab government to compensate their father. There is no greater burden than the death of two sons,” Sidhu said in a tweet on Friday.

Darshan Singh Maiserkhana, a neighbor of Jaspal Singh confirmed this. “Jaspal is the youngest son of Balwinder Singh. His other son had committed suicide in 2012 when he was in his twenties and now Jaspal has also committed suicide. The family had taken out a loan of Rs 9 lakh from a private bank and were unable to repay it. The whole village is in shock,” Darshan Singh said.

He added that the family owned 12 acres where they grew cotton and wheat. They suffered losses when their cotton crop was hit by the pink bollworm attack and now the wheat crop has also been damaged due to the unexpected heat wave.

Earlier, sharing a video of his visit to another family, Sidhu said the farmer who took his own life was cultivating 10 acres of land from which he took six acres as a lease. The farmer had suffered losses during the cotton season and his wheat yield was also low. Sidhu said the farmer took an extreme step after failing to pay the rent for the leased land. The farmer, he said, had paid for the education of his older brother who is “double MA, MPhil & NET pass, but unemployed”.

“That’s why I say that a complete overhaul of the system driven by politics is the only way for the resurrection of Punjab,” Sidhu added.

Meanwhile, Harjinder Baggi, chairman of BKU Ugrahan’s Bathinda unit, said the government must speak out on the issue to prevent farmers from committing suicide.


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