ibnlive » India

Dec 15, 2006 at 12:07pm IST

They fed India, now they are fed up

Sangrur: It is perhaps the worst crisis after militancy – the dark side of the green revolution. Farmer suicides in Punjab is a truth that even the Government is too scared to confront. CNN-IBN travels to Punjab to witness the grim reality.

Meet Shanti Kaur, she carries the cross of double betrayal – her son Lala Singh's suicide and her daughter-in-law Amarjeet's desertion.

Since then, she is the mother and father of their sons Jasbeer, Avtaar and daughter Gurpreet. Heavily indebted, Lala Singh killed himself when his crop failed and the money lender came knocking.

“My daughter-in-law says she does not know anything about the kids and I am helpless now, “grieves Shanti.

Jasbeer says, " I don't remember my mother. I have never seen her and people say she got married"

But the crisis in rural families does not stop only at suicides; often one suicide is followed by another. In some cases the mother deserts her kids.

If there's one example of the green revolution going wrong somewhere, it is here.

In fact, the land owning Jat Sikhs are now reduced to the level of the landless peasants. Gurjant Singh took his life five years back.

His land is mortgaged for 11 years against a paltry debt of Rs 50,000.

Gurjant’s wife Parmjeet Kaur says, " The Dalits are better off. People come to their houses asking them to work for them. I have to go and look for work. "

While his mother says, "There's nothing to eat in the house. Once upon a time we had two acres of land. "

Suicide has widowed women and passed on the burden of the family to their frail shoulders.

Politically volatile is the issue of farmer suicides that Panchayats now certify the cause of death. But that does not really helps.

A widow's pension of Rs 250 is all that the survivor can hope for. Unlike some other states, Punjab does not have a relief package for farmers. After all farmer suicides happen elsewhere.

Punjab Chief Minster Amrinder Singh says, " Before Vidharba was thought of Punjab was already on the job. I have nationalised banks and commissioning agents. I will have to coordinate with all.”

"Government is for the rich not for the poor. That is why they are not prepared to take action against artiyas. Letting down 80,00000 for the sake of 30,000, " says social activist Inderjeet Singh Jayjee.

Most of the farmer suicides have happened in the cotton growing areas of Sangrur, Mansa and Bhatinda. But wheat and rice growers have also taken their lives. Rising debts, falling prices, shrinking land holdings – agriculture just isn't what it used to be in Punjab.

Jayjee adds, "If India's successful farmer is committing suicide to such an extent that means there's a total collapse of the agrarian community. Entire agriculture in India stands collapsed they will talk of suicides in the South, in Madhya Pradesh but not in Punjab or Haryana."