Suicide by farmers: High Court issues Notice By SSNews, maneesh chhibber, rajiv sharma, tribune Oct 11, 2006, 16:42 In a scathing comment on the lackadaisical attitude of the government regarding suicides by debt-ridden farmers, the Punjab and Haryana High Court has observed that the “government is taking no remedial steps to save poor farmers from committing suicides”. Taking suo moto notice of media reports with headlines such as “4 of farmer’s family consume poison, die” and “farmer commits suicide”, which talked of four members of two separate farmers’ families ending their lives to escape continuing financial hardships, Mr Justice Pritam Pal also pointed out that banks and other financial institutions have floated many schemes such as one-time settlement scheme to favour principal debtors and industrial houses who fail to pay back crores of rupees that they take as loan. “The said protection is not meant for the rich only. Such schemes are supposed to be framed to look after poor sections of the society as well,” Mr Justice Pritam Pal’s order says. News reports yesterday talked of four members of a poor farmer’s family consuming a poisonous substance to end their lives at Khyali village in Barnala district. While a father-son duo died immediately, the son’s wife died in a Ludhiana hospital later. The couple’s five-year-old daughter was still struggling for life in the hospital. The family had been facing financial hardships, making it difficult of them to make both ends meet. Despite owning 10 acres of land, the family was not able to earn enough. The second report talked of a debt-ridden farmer in his late 20s committing suicide by hanging himself from the roof at his residence in Bhaini Bagha village in Mansa. The deceased, 28-year-old Gurjeet Singh, had 15 acres of land, out of which he had mortgaged three acres. He was purportedly stuck in a debt-trap, as he owed about Rs 12 lakh to State Bank of India and Land Mortgage Bank, Mansa. Holding that the facts and circumstances mentioned in the news reports were sufficient for taking up the matter on the judicial side, Mr Justice Pritam Pal has stated that the governments of Punjab and Haryana be issued directions to come to the rescue of poor farmers and other weaker sections of the society, who suffer on account of natural calamities like drought, floods and crop diseases, etc, thereby failing to re-pay their loans and debts. He referred the matter to the Chief Justice for appropriate orders. Today, the Division Bench comprising Acting Chief Justice S.S. Nijjar and Mr Justice S.S. Saron issued notices to the governments of Punjab and Haryana for November 15. Meanwhile in Amritsar, farmers held a protest rally, demanding quashing of the notification for acquiring 1218 acres of cultivable land for setting up a special economic zone (SEZ). They raised slogans against the state government for dislocating them from their ancestral villages. They stated that the government had issued a notification to acquire 1218 acres in seven villages, including Pandori Mehma, Cheete Kalan, Chheete Khurd and Mannan Wala, in Amritsar district at throwaway prices. They announced that they would die rather than give their land for setting up the SEZ.