It is strange and perplexing about the suicidal deaths of the Sikh farmers and farm labourers in the Punjab, a state in which the Sikh’s are in majority. We have neighbouring states- Haryana, Rajasthan, UT Chandigarh, Himachal Pradesh, Jammu & Kashmir and across the Radcliffe Line Pakistan’s Punjab province. In all these states which are either Hindu majority or Muslim majority, there are no reported suicidal deaths of farmers and farm labourers. This is bewildering and there is no exact and definite answer to these mysterious and unexplainable deaths.
The Hindu state is a Hindu majority state, where through the parliament, judiciary, executive and the press, the Hindu rules the roost. The ultra right wing Hindu party and organization BJP-RSS holds the levers of power and they have their government headed by Premier Narinder Modi. This right wing party and organization have virtually turned the state into a Hindu ruled theocratic state.
State largesse are given generously to Hindu’s in every sphere whether economic, religious, social, employment or wherever there are a lack of funds.
Just a few months ago Premier Modi dished out a bonanza of Rs. 46,000 crores to businessmen, industrialists and merchants who had fallen into debt. These beneficiaries were largely Hindu’s and none amongst them had committed suicide or was on the threshold of taking away his life. On the other hand in the Punjab where mass suicidal deaths of Sikh farmers and farm labourers are taking place the Union and the state governments are in no manner attempting to make these farmers and farm labourers debt free.
The farm prices are falling by the day, making the farmers poorer and placing a handicap on paying back their debts. To make matters worse the Union government has decreased the custom duty on wheat, causing greater hardships on the Punjab Sikh farmer whose main crop is the wheat. The storage facilities are poor and thousands of tons of wheat and paddy are destroyed each year. Policing has deteriorated over the years; with the result pilferage of food grains from godowns and silos has increased.
For the last ten years we have had a BJP-Badal Dal government in the Punjab. This government had given a free hand to adulterators to adulterate pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. This resulted in destroying the crops of the farmers causing huge financial losses. The cotton seed was also substandard and this has ruined the crop where, in the coming season the cotton farmers are going to face huge losses. We also have sugarcane plantations in the Punjab but the mill owners have not paid the farmers their dues for the last three years and the government is sitting back and watching the dismay in the country side. It’s like Nero fiddling.
As we said the Sikh’s face discrimination, the Union government has given huge easy loans to sugar mill owners in Uttar Pradesh and Maharashtra to pay back the monies they owe to the sugarcane farmers. This has obviously been done to placate the majority Hindu states mentioned here. But such a step has not been taken in the Punjab.
To make matters worse in the Punjab, the farmer’s Union chief’s like Mr. Lakhowal deserted his union to take up a lucrative political position and post in the BJP-Badal Dal government. He was made the Chairman of the Marketing Committee which has a very big budget. Besides this benefit he was given a cabinet ministers prestigious post. Other farmer Union boss was Balbir Singh Rajowal. He too envying the exalted and influential post of Lakhowal joined the ruling BJP-Badal Dal government. The third farmer’s union leader Bhupinder Singh Mann joined the Congress party. With these farmer union leaders deserting their flock there were no watch dogs to look after the welfare and economic interests of the farmers and farm labourers. This has led to great dismay amongst the country people.
According to our political party the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar) we do not see any hope of the economy of the farmers improving as there is no support from the government quarters. Agricultural economy which was the main stay of the Punjab and Sikh peoples has shown such a nose dive that we do not see any prospects of recovery in this sector or occupation.
The Sikh’s are a discriminated people in Hindu India. 46 lakh of our youngsters are unemployed. Drugs and violent crime has been introduced to upset the economy and the livelihood of our people. We do not see any improvement in economic terms, with the agriculture sector doomed. Unless we open our borders to Pakistan for trade and commerce we see no chance of reviving our economy and our lives. We will have to take hard decisions, whether we like them or not and join the China-Pakistan economic corridor with its outlet into the Arabian Sea through Gwador port. This will increase markets for our agricultural produce to the Middle East, erstwhile Soviet republics, Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Syria and into the Mediterranean Sea.
As long as the Punjab and the Sikh’s remain the back waters of the Hindu states economy, we are afraid; we are on an irreversible suicidal path. We have to open up and not remain a colony of the Hindu state. It is demeaning as we have gone through ethnic cleansing, genocide, state terrorism and had our most sanctified holy religious places and shrines over run by the Hindu states military and even reduced to rubble.
About eh Author;
Simranjit Singh Mann is the President of the Sikh political party- the Shiromani Akali Dal (Amritsar).