Saturday, 16 January 2016

‘Go Commit Suicide And Get Compensation’, Tackling Farmers Suicides The Punjab Way’

This morning I was shocked to read a tweet by an on line news portal of Punjab which announced a ‘Breaking News’. The tweet was naturally short and crisp announcing,
‘Punjab to make compensation on the same day in farmer suicide cases’.
My immediate reaction was of shock and dismay and I responded by a counter tweet;
“But only till elections, after which farmers ‘can die merrily’ (God Forbid). You should know your damn politicians”.
Now as I sit, still in disbelief, pondering over the ‘breaking news’, I realize its serious consequences and repercussions. In the first place, unfortunately in Punjab, suicides by farmers have been on rise because of a variety of reasons, as is the case elsewhere. Broadly they can be summarized as ‘debt burden and financial reasons’. Neither the state government of Punjab nor any of its agencies have till now bothered either to genuinely study and to address to those generic reasons, inter alia including fake or substandard pesticides & manure of the kinds being marketed and sold with political and administrative connivance, lack of irrigation facilities, shortage of electricity for the agricultural sector, ‘crop diseases’ and fungi, bad debts, lack of the support both by governmental and co-operative sectors etc. The only agricultural sector immune to these problems is the one owned by or affiliated to rich and powerful politicians. Several commissions were set up and studies conducted by central and state Government, with or without the help of the famed Punjab Agriculture University located at Ludhiana. But the core of the problem remains as to who bothers about such reports? They are sincerely conducted and even ‘produced’ in certain cases, given immense publicity to claim that the government is serious and concerned but then they are finally just consigned to the ever increasing and rotting heap of government files and papers which are ultimately sold as ‘Raddi’ to make paper bags of the sundry out of them. That is beginning and end of the story.
Then comes the election time and knee jerk reactions start to befool the ‘target segment of the electorate’. This reaction is confined only to making stupid and shocking announcements of the kinds in question and ‘successfully’ befooling the target group. Farmer’s movement in Punjab has been fractionalized, personalized and ‘balkanized’. There is no unified command or hierarchy or organization thereof. Each of the broadly divided geographical regions; Malwa, Doaba and Majha are independent of each other with regional Satraps commanding them. More important of them, namely the Malwa area, which is the biggest of them all, is further divided into smaller geographical groups, most of them being prop-ups and stooges of one political party or the other and then again some of them being ever ready to sell themselves to government of the day for hefty personal considerations. Some of them start agitations, only to call them off after ‘assurance by government of the day’. One need not explain the meaning and significance of these so-called assurances. Anyhow, that is not the concern of lesser mortals and ordinary citizens like us, here, in this write up.
What bothers us is the shocking announcement, in question by the Punjab government that all those farmers committing suicide shall get compensation on the same day. What the heck is it? Instead of solving the problems and issues being faced by farmer community and trying to make Punjab a happy green state, is it’s government trying to encourage ‘broken down’ farmers to commit suicide? It is a well known psychological fact of human life that while driven by severe desperation and frustration, which may unfortunately lead to one committing suicide, the person in question does think about the family, once he or she, is no longer with them? And if one feels that the family might benefit by ‘ones death in desperation’, the individual may be encouraged and emboldened to take such a desperate and ultimate step. In simpler, yet legal, language it is called abetment to suicide and section 306 of the Indian penal code deals with it. It reads, ‘If any person commits suicide, whoever abets the commission of such suicide, shall be punished with imprisonment of either description for a term which may extend to ten years, and shall also be liable to fine.
And the Punjab government of the day needs to be held liable to all such suicides which may be committed in wake of this knee jerk and stupid announcement. Anyway, from a legal point of view, it already stands liable to all suicides, till now, by farmers because of the sheer criminal negligence and indifference of the government and its policy makers.

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