Sarbjit Dhaliwal, Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, November 8. Gurnam Kaur of Sangrur district lost her three sons to financial distress with each committing suicide for inability to
repay farm loans. She now suffers the trauma alone. There are many more like her undergoing the same suffering. Inderjit Singh Jaijee, who has co-authored a book titled “Debt and Death in Rural India, the Punjab Story”, says that 40,000 to 60,000 farmers and landless labourers have committed suicide in the state during the past two decades. The book is based on the doctoral research of his daughter Aman Sidhu who died in an accident a few years ago. Aman had worked on farmers’ suicide after doing her post-graduation in International Business from South Bank University, London.
“Various farmer organisations claim that 90,000 farmers have committed suicide since 1990. The Punjab Police puts the number at seven (from 2001 to 2008) and the Revenue Department at 232,” says Jaijee.
“If we go by the data collected by Punjab Agricultural University in two districts, the total number of suicides in the state will be 28,000”, he says, adding that the state had been concealing the data. “In fact, it did not admit for years that farmers under debt were committing suicide,” he said.
Commenting on the book, Dr Sucha Singh Gill and Dr Ranjit Singh Ghuman, eminent economists said: “The authors deserve appreciation for documenting the issue in a scientific manner. There can be difference of opinion on the number of suicides but the way they have projected the crisis in agriculture is commendable”. The book was released by SS Boparai, former Vice Chancellor.