Haryana Farmer Serving Jail Term For Loan Default Dies In Prison

Family of farmers says, he never spoke about any financial matters with them

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Protests in Bhiwani after Ranbir Singh, a farmer serving jail term for loan default, died in prison


Bhiwani, Haryana: 

Thirty-five-year old Jaipal sits motionless in his house for hours. Neither him nor his brother Udaipal, 47, can make sense of what has unfolded in the last two days.

Their father Ranbir Singh died in the jail after heart failure. He was sent there ten days ago and had just started serving his two-year jail term for loan default and a bounced cheque. 

For the family, the breadwinner is gone. Their house in Chaharkalan village, 60 km ahead of Bhiwani in Haryana, now has ten family members who are helpless. Ranbir Singh used to live in the four-roomed house with his wife, two sons and their wives and five grandchildren; all of whom were dependent on Ranbir Singh. 

"He never discussed any money matters with us. He never told us how much debt he had taken or how much money was being used at any point for household needs. We brothers only went to work in the fields and came home. If we ever asked him about money he would tell us that it was none of our business and we should stick to farming," said Jaipal. He added that the brothers never went to the market to buy household items. Only their father did that and also took care of the school fees of the grandchildren, the youngest of whom is 12 and the eldest 17.

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For the family, the breadwinner is gone.

Ranbir Singh was illiterate and so are all his five children. His three daughters are married and they live in Rajasthan now. The two sons only studied until the second standard and now work on the 9-acre plot owned by the family.

In the house, there is barely any furniture except a few cots. The practice has been to lay mattresses on the floor so that all eleven members can be accommodated. There is no fridge or TV in the house. The village gets electricity only for eight hours every day. 

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The family is still unsure about what will happen.

When the family and other farmers sat on protest on Tuesday, demanding compensation of Rs 25 lakh, a loan waiver and a job for a family member, the district authorities assured them that their demands would be met. But because nothing has been given in an official manner, the family is still unsure about what will happen.

Ever since Ranbir Singh went to jail relatives have been helping out with funds and household needs. The family says, it will take the support of relatives and neighbours to pull through in future but for now the shock losing the man, they were all dependent on, has still not sunk in.



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