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Agrarian Crisis: Another Suicide in Punjab, Haryana Bank Shames Farmers for Non-repayment

“India’s agrarian crisis has gone beyond the agrarian. It’s a crisis of society,” writes P Sainath.
farmers suicide

Unable to cope with the mounting debt and the pressure by the bank for the repayment, a farmer from Ramgarh, Chungha village in Punjab, was allegedly forced to commit suicide by consuming poisonous substance.

The 60-year-old victim was reportedly in debt of nearly Rs 13 lakh following which the bank officials were reportedly pressing him for the repayment. As per reports, the victim owned just five acres of land. The victim’s son informed reporters that his father was taken to a hospital where he was declared ‘brought dead’.

“Under depression, he took the extreme step by consuming pesticide,” his son Gursaraj was quoted by The Tribune as saying. Meanwhile, the police have registered a case under Section 174 of the CrPC.

The farmers from the state have been under great distress for a long time, but in the past few years, their condition has worsened. If one goes by the data by the National Crime Records Bureau, nearly 48,104 farmers and farm labourers committed suicide between 2013 and 2016, including 542 in Punjab alone.

Meanwhile, Maharashtra still remains the state with the highest number of suicides. In 2016 alone, 3,661 farmers ended their lives in Maharashtra including 2,550 farmers, and 1,111 agricultural workers. Notably, for last two years, NCRB has not published data on farmers’ suicide.

Time and again, farmers have raised their voice against the economic and anti-farmer polices of the Modi government. The recently held congregation of farmers – where protesting farmers marched towards the Parliament, on November 30, 2018 – highlighted the collective unity of pauperised working class. Marching bare-foot, the farmers from across the country raised their demands in unison, seeking a complete debt waiver, and guaranteed remunerative prices for agricultural commodities based on the recommendations of the Swaminathan Commission, that is, of “fixing minimum support price at 50% over the full cost of production”, called C2 in government parlance.

“The anti-farmer policies of the Modi government have pushed farmers into distress, leading them to opt for suicides. We want this government to go away,” a farmer from Haryana told Newsclick.

Meanwhile, farmers from Hisar are planning to protest after a poster was put up calling them defaulters. The Bhiwani District Primary Cooperative Agriculture and Rural Development Bank had put up a poster mentioning the names of the 50 farmers, who had failed to repay their loan. The poster also urged others banks to refrain for providing loan to these farmers. It should be noted that Haryana has been going through a season of scanty rainfall, resulting in crop failures.

Talking to Newsclick, Inderjeet of All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) had said, “Crop failure has become a common phenomenon in Haryana. Due to the crop failures, farmers are unable to repay their loans. In fact, for past many years, farmers have been facing drought-like situation, which has aggravated their problems. What’s pertinent is to note is that almost 53 per cent of farmers in Haryana have failed to repay their loans, of which 88.66 per cent of the defaulters are small and marginal farmers who own 0-5 acres of land.”

Recently, in one of its articles, renowned journalist P Sainath wrote: “India’s agrarian crisis has gone beyond the agrarian. It’s a crisis of society. May be even a civilizational crisis, with perhaps the largest body of small farmers and labourers on earth fighting to save their livelihoods.”

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