Perturbed over the spate of suicides being committed by farmers and the farm labour all across Punjab, Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) on Sunday made a fervent appeal to the entire community not to take such a drastic step to end life. AAP Punjab Dialogue, head, Kanwar Sandhu took a pledge from Punjab farmers to not to commit suicides.
Sandhu, who was addressing farmers in Mansa under its ongoing campaign Punjab Dialogue, said that the farmers must keep patience for at least eight months before AAP could form the government in Punjab and resolve their agricultural related problems on priority.
The event- Punjab Dialogue, had been organised by the AAP to gather the views of farmers on the agricultural related issues & problems being faced by them before finalising the manifesto draft for the assembly polls slated for 2017.
Sandhu also called upon all farmers present at the venue to raise their hands to take a vow that they would not let anyone commit suicide.
Sandhu who was also accompanied by AAP’s Punjab Kisan Wing President, GS Kang and senior leader Chander Suta Dogra, said though Delhi Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had already written to Punjab Chief Minister Parkash Singh Badal to immediately impose moratorium on the recovery of loans from the farmers which could prevent the peasantry of Punjab from committing suicides but the SAD-BJP alliance government has refused to act on his piece of advice.
“Once the AAP comes to power we will not let any farmer or even a farm labour die in such a manner. The party will take several measures to ensure that the peasantry is taken out of the vicious circle of loan and mounting debt”, Sandhu assured the farmers who gathered in large numbers to participate in the Punjab Dialogue under the banner ” Bold Punjab”.
Sandhu also suggested that the people should form small groups which should be in constant touch with the families of farmers who might end their lives out of despair. “We should all come together and help and prevent such people not to take such a drastic step of ending their life”, added Sandhu.
Earlier Kang informed that in Mansa alone nearly 148 farmers and farm labourers have committed suicides since 2013 till March 2016.
Sandhu said high agricultural inputs, low incomes, substandard & spurious seeds, fertilizers and pesticides and mounting debt are the major reasons behind the spate of suicides being committed by farmers.
Sandhu said ending the corruption at all government offices would be the top priority of AAP. The party would also ensure that no stray cattle are found loitering around in villages which can damage the crops of the farmers. In case of cows and bulls they would be taken to cow shelters.
“On coming to power the AAP on the pattern of Sir Chhotu Ram would not allow the banks or the government to acquire, confiscate or auction the agricultural land of the farmers. Punjab agricultural university (PAU), Ludhiana and Punjab Agricultural department would be made fully accountable for providing quality seeds, fertilizers and pesticides to the farming community”, added Sandhu.
Earlier, Pargat Singh, a farmer, stressed on the need for the farmers to grow at least three to four different crops in a year to augment their income. “For instance the farmers can grow Moongi (pulses), Toria (mustard crop) and beetroot instead of entirely depending upon wheat and paddy cycle. But for this the government of the day must help the farmers in marketing their produce. Three to four crop cycle will also help the farm labour to get job on the agricultural fields around the year. Besides it will give some respite to the soil which is fast loosing fertility with the current wheat and paddy cycle”, he added.
Kuldip Singh another farmer raised the concern of stray cattle including a large number of cows and bulls which often damage the sanding crops. “Since the issue has religious overtones the farmers do not want to get involved but this has really caused a huge nuisance to the farmers of the region”.
Jaspreet Singh said that farmer’s plight would continue to deteriorate till persons such as Agricultural Minister Tota Singh who was squarely responsible for the whitefly attack on the cotton crop as well as for providing spurious fertilizers and pesticides to the farmers was not suitably punished.