A 38-year-old farmer died under mysterious circumstances at a local government crop purchase centre, or mandi, in Jais area of Amethi on Friday morning after waiting for two days to sell his wheat produce. While the victim’s brother alleged that Abdul Sattar died of a heart attack, as he was worried over selling his the produce, the authorities maintained that the postmortem report has not confirmed the cause of death.
The crop was scheduled to be purchased on Wednesday but could not be done due to unavailability of gunny bags at the centre, according to the family.
After family members and villagers staged a protest demanding action against the centre in-charge for Sattar’s death, the district magistrate on Saturday ordered an inquiry by the sub-divisional magistrate (SDM) of Tiloi.
Denying allegations that were not enough gunny sacks, SDM Girijesh Kumar said the autopsy report did not confirm cause of death.
Sattar is survived by wife and five children, with the eldest daughter being 12. His younger brother Mohammad Iliyas, 24, is a teacher at a local madrasa.
The family owns 8 bighas, and Sattar had taken 5 tonnes of wheat in his tractor-trolley to the ‘mandi’. Each quintal of wheat is purchased at the mandi at Rs 17,045 and his total produce was taken at the centre on Saturday, Iliyas told The Sunday Express.
The area is part of Rahul Gandhi’s Lok Sabha constituency, and party workers, led by MLC Deepak Singh, protested at the mandi on Saturday. They said the mandi has no basic facilities, and many farmers are stuck there for the last few days, waiting for crop to be purchased. Iliyas said Rahul called him up today and sought details about Sattar’s death.
According to Iliyas, Sattar was at the centre with his produce since 7 am Wednesday, and spent nights in the open to keep an eye on the tractor-trolley containing the family’s crop. There was rain and thunderstorm on Wednesday night.
Tiloi’s SDM Girijesh Kumar said that he has started the inquiry and action will be taken against those found guilty. He said the delay in purchase was because there were many other farmers already in the queue.
But Iliyas said, “I had gone to the mandi on April 18 to confirm when we could bring our produce. I was given a slip with the date May 2 (when their crop would be purchased). My brother and I loaded 5 tonnes of wheat on the tractor-trolley on April 30. On May 1, I again went to the centre and reconfirmed the date.”
As they reached the centre on Wednesday, the siblings were told to wait. Left with no option, Iliyas said they decided that Sattar would stay there. “He spent first night sleeping near the tractor-trolley with other farmers. The next day he was told that there were not enough gunny bags to weigh and take the produce, and that we would have to wait until the bags are brought,” he said.
On Thursday night, Iliyas said, Sattar and a few other farmers were discussing the uncertainty — “they were not sure how long they have to wait” – and the others found him dead the next morning. “One of the farmers called me up…. He probably was under too much stress over the delay and suffered a heart attack in sleep,” Iliyas said.
Sattar’s village, Khairana, is 17 km from the mandi.