Even as her six daughters watched, and those in the hall urged her to speak, Laxmi Sahu just sat in her chair, shaking her head. When the words eventually came, tears came with them. “All my husband wanted to do was to farm, and have enough money to send our girls to school and college. He crumbled under debt, and took his own life,” she said. There were three other families, of the twelve farmers that have taken their lives in Chhattisgarh over the past month who arrived in the state capital on Wednesday to make a point. That their deaths were indeed agriculture related.
Dr Sanket Thakur, of the Chhattisgarh Kisan Mazdoor Mahasangh, a farmers body that has visited each home across the state said, “We had told the Agriculture Minister on July 28 to meet the farmers to understand their pain. BJP ministers have been saying that there is not a single farm related death in Chhattisgarh. So we have brought the families to meet him.” In the afternoon, the families did meet Brijmohan Agrawal, the minister concerned, with him promising 25000 rupees in compensation, and to look into the widespread demands for a paddy bonus and loan waiver and education specifically for the families of the children.
While Laxmi Sahu’s husband Chandranath Sahu had accumalated close to 5 lakh rupees in debt,Mohan Singh, the son of Manthir Singh Dhruv said that for four days before his death, his father kept speaking about the rising debt. “For 15 to 20 days, he had become quiet and irritable, and had nearly stopped eating. We had made another bore well, but that gave no water, and half the farm land could not be watered. The insurance money had also not come in. He tried to protect us from all these facts before his death,” he said. Singh’s loand was close to six lakh in all, family members said.
Each of the families expressed displeasure at comments of BJP leaders who dismissed the deaths, and said that while delegations came to their home, they stayed a matter of minutes, and despite being told about the farm related problems, pretended this was not the case.