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‘We expected too much from Rahul… now realise we’ve always been alone’

Congress, SAD and AAP had all promised Surjit's family remunerations in different ways, none has yet been fulfilled.

Written by Divya Goyal | Daddu Majra (fatehgarh Sahib) |
June 14, 2016 9:16:32 am
Punjab farmers, Punjab congress, Punjab rahul gandhi, Farmer suicides, famer issues, punjab farmer suicides, congress punjab, India News Family of Surjit Singh. Gurmeet Singh

Last year, farmer Surjit Singh, who was in his 60s, committed suicide on June 10. It was the time when farmer suicides were attracting a lot of media attention and soon enough, attracted AICC vice-president Rahul Gandhi, who was once pictured with Surjit in Sirhind grain market in April that year.

Eight days later, Surjit’s Daddu Majra village in Fatehgarh Sahib turned into a fortress, the Gandhi scion was to visit the late farmer’s family.

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Today, as Rahul visits Punjab, there are no cameras, no media and certainly not a single politician around Surjit’s house. Kulwinder Singh, Surjit’s son, was busy in the fields with his mother Jaswant Kaur hoping the land keeps its promise.

“I would say that our expectation grew manifold,” said Kulwinder, describing the time when Rahul attended his father’s bhog ceremony. “Rahul Gandhi’s presence was re-assuring. We thought everything would be alright. The way he had given us assurances that time, we were hoping too much. We forgot all is politics. It has been a year since my father committed suicide and politicians turned his bhog into a battleground. Today when we look back, we realise that we have always been alone.”

At the bhog, Rahul, reportedly, had promised a ‘debt waiver’ and ‘all possible help from the Congress’.

“We had a debt of Rs 13 lakh then,” said Kulwinder. “It has gone up to Rs 18 lakh now.”

The Aam Aadmi Party (AAP), which is currently touring Punjab hoping to form the next government in the state, had promised a ‘Surjit Singh memorial’ in the village too. Nothing, of course, can be found on the ground.

The Shiromani Akali Dal (SAD) wasn’t far behind the Congress and the AAP. Punjab CM Parkash Singh Badal had promised an immediate relief of Rs 3 lakh for families who lost someone to the agrarian debt crisis.

“That too is nowhere to be found,” said Kulwinder. “Our local Congress MLA Kuljit Singh Nagra calls up sometimes. He assures us that he will do something but nothing has come of it. The fresh income from crops is being used to pay interest on previous debt. It is a vicious circle.”

“AAP MP did not even meet us once. Maybe my husband’s suicide was a photo-op for these leaders,” said Jaswant Kaur, 62.

“We just have one question for Rahul Gandhi. If it was not in his hands to get our debt waived, why did he promise? Why did he give us false hope? Why did he never try to contact us after bhog ceremony? Was it just a one day game?,” asks Kulwinder.

MLA Nagra claimed that ‘politics is being played with the family.’ “It is not true that Rahul did not bother to contact the family. He has asked me twice about them. The SAD is not releasing the compensation because Surjit was pro-Congress. Still, I am personally looking into it,” he said.

Deputy commissioner Fatehgarh Sahib Kamaldeep Singh Sangha said, “Their cheque of Rs 3 lakh will reach them soon.”

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