Punjab’s Leader of Opposition Sukhpal Singh Khaira on Tuesday accused Chief Minister Amarinder Singh and his government of fudging figures on the growing number of suicides by debt-ridden farmers in the state.
Questioning farmer suicide data disclosed by the Chief Minister in the present Congress government rule so far (March-September 2017), he said that he was surprised to read the “fudged figures”.
“Amarinder Singh is trying to downplay the sensational matter of farmers suicide during the last six months of his rule. As per his statement, only 131 farmers had committed suicides from March to September 2017, claiming that suicides had declined now if compared to the corresponding period of 2016, during the (previous Parkash Singh) Badal regime.
This is nothing but erroneous, amounting to playing with the sentiments of struggling peasantry,” Khaira said in a statement here.
Noting that while in opposition, Amarinder Singh would often accuse the Badal government of misleading people by fudging figures, to hide their failures, be it the budget or farm related suicides, Khaira claimed that as per data collected by his assembly office from July 1 to September 18, as many as 118 farmers and labourers had committed suicide.
“If 118 farmers had committed suicide in just 79 days i.e. July 1 to September 18, one can imagine how many farmers would have committed suicide in the remaining period commencing March 16 to July 1, i.e. 106 days,” he said, adding that he stood by his figure that more than 250 farmers had committed suicide during the last six months of Congress rule.
“Amarinder Singh was treading the same path of lies as (former Deputy Chief Minister) Sukhbir Badal, who always down played suicides by suppressing data. Badal had once, in 2007, ordered survey of farm related suicides by the Punjab Agriculture University-Ludhiana, Punjabi University, Patiala and GNDU, Amritsar, but never made public the findings, as the figure of suicide was so high particularly in the Malwa region that the Akalis felt ashamed,” Khaira said.
Accusing the government of betraying the farmers in the agrarian state, he challenged the Chief Minister to have an open debate on the issue to get the correct picture.
“In case the CM backs out, it would be presumed that the figure of 250 suicides is authentic, for which the CM will have to apologize,” Khaira said.