Farmers' Suicide Dictated Her Marriage, and Now Drives Her to Fight an Election -Kabir Agarwal
Veerpal Kaur, who lost her father and then husband to the growing spate of farmer suicides in Punjab, says neither the SAD-BJP alliance nor the Congress is addressing the issue.
Dharamvir Singh was being considered, one thing played in their favour – both the bride and groom had lost their fathers, both farmers, to suicide. Kaur’s father drank poison in 1995 and Singh’s hanged himself in 1990.
“That was what clinched it. It was thought that the families of suicide victims could understand each other’s pain better,” said Kaur.
Her pain was not behind her yet, however. After four years of marriage, they had a three-year-old daughter and an 18-month-old son. Then her husband, burdened by new debt and failed crops, set himself on fire in 2003.
“It was horrifying. Imagine my children seeing his body,” Kaur said as she stood by a multi-seater Mahindra auto rickshaw, asking people to vote for the matka – her election symbol. Having found politicians uninterested in her woes, she decided to take matters in her own hands.
“For very long, I hoped that our representatives would do something for me and others like me. Now I realise they are here only for their personal gains. They are the modern-day Britishers,” she said. “I have to fight for myself and for the issue on my own.”
She is contesting the 2019 Lok Sabha polls from her home constituency, Bathinda, where she is challenging Shiromani Akali Dal’s (SAD) Harsimrat Kaur Badal and Congress’s Amarinder Singh Raja Warring.
Kaur knows her candidature is only symbolic. “I know I am not going to win. But I am not worried about that. I have lost a lot in life, what is one election?” she said, dressed in a printed pink kurta, with a dupatta draped around her head and blue slippers. “My fight is bigger than just an election. I want to bring the focus to the plight of the suicide victim families. Maybe I can give hope to others – that ‘If she can fight, we can too’.”
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TheWire.in, 18 May, 2019, https://thewire.in/politics/elections-2019-meet-the-woman-standing-up-for-punjabs-voiceless-farmers