A day after 65-year-old farmer Balwinder Singh died by suicide at a farmers’ dharna site outside Muktsar DC office, Muktsar police on Tuesday registered an FIR against landlord Balshinder Singh who had gone to court to get ‘kurki’ orders of Balwinder Singh’s land. Balshinder has been booked on charges of abetment to suicide.
Balwinder was said to be under stress after a court had issued a ‘kurki’ notice for his land over a pending loan that he had taken from the village landlord.
Balwinder was from Raike Kalan village of Bathinda.
Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union general secretary Lacchman Singh Sewewala said, “Balshinder is father of former Punjab DSP Jagdish Singh Bhola who is one of the accused in Rs 6,000 crore drug case registered in January 2014. Bhola is in jail.”
On Tuesday afternoon, the district administration gave a compensation of Rs 3 lakh to Kulwant Kaur, widow of Balwinder Singh. Bathinda Deputy Commissioner Showkat Parry Ahmed said, “We have given Rs 3 lakh compensation as per the policy of the government. In addition to this, the district administration has also requested the civil court in Bathinda not to carry out the ‘kurki’ process on September 3 because of death in the family.”
Gurtej Singh, elder son of Balwinder, in his statement to police said, “My father had taken money from Balshinder, but he had already paid back Rs 8.5 lakh to the landlord. In a meeting with the landlord which was attended by a few villagers, it was declared that we had paid back all our dues to the landlord. However, some three months ago, Balshinder came up with a promissory note which showed Rs 1.87 lakh outstanding against Balwinder. My father went for a meeting with the landlord on Sunday wherein the landlord demanded Rs 5.5 lakh as interest on that amount. My father committed suicide the very next day.”
Newsletter | Click to get the day’s best explainers in your inbox
Kulwant Rai Sharma, BKU Ugrahan’s sangat block president, who also lives in the same village, said, “The landlord had got a blank promissory note signed from Balwinder. This is a common tactic of landlords to take money repeatedly from the farmers.” BKU Ugrahan general secretary Shingara Singh Mann said, “Before 2017 poll campaign, the slogan of Congress was ‘karza kurki khatam, fasal di poori rakam’. However, ‘kurki’ has never stopped. We continue to struggle in many such cases at different places in Punjab.” BKU Ugrahan member Ajaypal Singh Ghudda said, “Balwinder had 1.5 acres of land in his name and 4 acres in the name of his two sons. Land is very dear to a farmer and hence he couldn’t bear this shock of ‘kurki’ order. As his meeting with Balshinder didn’t yield any results, he was upset and at his wits’ end. One can understand attachment of a farmer with his land.”
Balwinder had been attending the protest – organised by BKU Ugrahan and Punjab Khet Mazdoor Union – in support of farmers who have been staging a dharna since August 24 demanding pending compensation for their cotton crop that was damaged in pink bollworm attack last year. Dharna is still going on outside Muktsar DC’s office.