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"Harvest of Grief" unmasks a shocking tail of Punjab farmers


By Satinder Bains

The miseries of familles of farmers of Sangrur district of Punjab who committed suicides due to indebtedness can not be explained nor understood unless one sees the ground realities of once prosperous state, and land of Green Revolution.

The Harvest of Grief, a documentary film, produced by Isas Basu and Ikktara, premiered here at Press Club on Monday brings alive the travails of widows of deceased farmers who lost the family bread winner and their land. The film has though highlighted the grief of families but seems missed on the social reasons of indebtedness of farmers. The subject of the film touches the sensitive issue of exploitation of farmers and farm labourers by the government, commission agents, pesticide manufacturers and doctors.

The fact that farmers have been falling prey to cancer in the Malwa belt has a passing reference. The film should explain more on how doctors and private hospitals cash on the miseries of poor people. As two of widow tells that they took their husbands to hospital after they consumed poison, the doctors charged huge amounts ranging from 50,000 to 80,000 but the lives of farmers couldn't be saved. They were discharged from hospital and they died after reaching home. This act of doctors was more inhuman than the commission agents who charged heavy interest rate.

The film has blamed the existing political system for the miseries of farmers which has failed to take care of their needs. G.S.Kalkat Chairman of the farmers Commission who was present there however disagreed and said that to an extent the lavish living style adopted by rich farmers and followed by small farmers is responsible for the present situation. He explains that in Punjab farmers with 5 acres of land are also having tractor whereas up to 12 acres, one can manage farming without tractor. Many farmers have taken loan to match the living style of big farmers.

Dr. Parmod Kumar a social analyst while giving testimony in the film says, Punjab is suffering from populist politics and state politics. He said that political parties make promises during poll and forget when they come to rule. He said that most unfortunate part is that people are bearing the sufferings without raising any voice. There is no people's movement in the state on any issue. This is rather more worrying, he added.

Inderjit Singh Jaijee a human rights and farmer leader says in his testimony that Punjab government was not recording all the suicides by farmers. Punjab government he said had told the union government that only 132 suicides took place in last five years whereas figure is over 16,000 in Malwa alone. He said that this was the reason that center has not given any relief to Punjab farmers on indebtedness.

The film was directed by Anwar Jamal who has done justice with the subject. He said he was moved to see at houses of many farmers that they are not taking two times meal and at a house of a widow in Bhattal khurd, the family didn't have sugar for tea. Realising the reality, he told them that he is a diabetic and dont need sugar in the tea. To many of countrymen, it may seem unrealistic. But truth cant be changed.

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Last Updated ( Thursday, 28 January 2016 18:36 )