New Delhi: Raising the issue of agrarian distress, Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal on Wednesday said the entire system is "helpless" when industrialist Vijay Mallya runs away after incurring debts of Rs 9,000 crore even as farmers are forced to end their lives over meagre loans.
Claiming that farmers are committing suicide in Punjab, where AAP is looking to unseat the SAD-BJP alliance in polls due next year, he said it was their inability to repay loans which was forcing them to take the extreme step.
"When Mallya ran away with pending loans of Rs 9,000 crore, the entire system was helpless before him. I don't think that the independence Bhagat Singh envisaged has come in our country," said Kejriwal, who on Wednesday unveiled statues of Singh, Sukhdev and Rajguru at the Assembly in New Delhi to mark their martyrdom day.
"There are several loopholes in our system. On one hand, Mallya ran away with a loan of Rs 9,000 crore, but on the other hand, a farmer has to commit suicide for a loan of just Rs 50,000-60,000," Kejriwal said, adding that "there are several persons" like Mallya who owe loans of crores of rupees.
Bhagat Singh used to believe that independence would not come by merely driving out the Britishers but when imperialism and poverty are uprooted, Kejriwal said.
"Recently, I visited Punjab where farmers are committing suicide. I was told that farmers were committing suicide because of non-payment of their loans taken for crops which were later damaged," he said.
The chief minister further said he had learnt that some farmers had committed suicide as they were also unable to bear excessive medical expenses.
In this regard, he spoke about the work done by his government for the welfare of farmers in Delhi and asserted that it would not let poor people die because they cannot afford medical expenses.
"The Delhi government has given the highest compensation to farmers for crop loss in the history of independent India. We gave Rs 20,000 per acre compensation.
"When farmers face problems, it is the responsibility of the government to resolve those," Kejriwal said.
Addressing a gathering here, Kejriwal said Wednesday is a "proud day" as statues of three revolutionaries were unveiled on the Delhi Assembly premises. Youths feel "deeply attached" to the three revolutionaries, who had been martyred on 23 March, 1931.
"I want to thank Assembly Speaker Ram Niwas Goel and Secretary Prasana Kumar for installing these statues here. I was told by the Speaker that Delhi Assembly is the first in the country where the statues of these revolutionaries have been installed.
"I think installing their statues is easy, but following in their footsteps is difficult. We should imbibe their values in our life," Kejriwal said.
On the occasion, 106-year-old Naseem Mirza Changezi, who had spent time with Bhagat Singh in Delhi before the latter carried out the episode at the national Assembly, recounted his experiences with the iconic revolutionary.
"Days before the incident, Bhagat Singh had said he had made arrangements for the Assembly attack. He had told me no one will die in the bomb attack," said Changezi, who still lives in Central Delhi's Daryaganj area, in the same house where he had put up Bhagat Singh.
"Bhagat Singh had wanted freedom for India. I took part in the freedom struggle, but never had the intention of giving my life for the cause; Bhagat Singh was different," he added.