A 36-year-old farmer of Surguja district in Chhattisgarh, apparently distressed over his mounting debt, allegedly committed suicide. The main opposition party Congress claimed at least 12 farmers have ended their lives in the state in the 10 days and accused the ruling BJP of being “insensitive” to the peasants’ welfare.
Phuleshwar Paikra, a tribal farmer, allegedly hanged himself at his home in Surguja’s Ulakia village on Tuesday, a police official said on Wednesday. While Paikra’s family members said he was disturbed over his mounting debt, the district administration claimed that the farmer took the extreme step due to personal reasons.
According to the farmer’s family, he had taken Rs 1.75 lakh loan from a bank for buying a tractor and another Rs 40,000 from a local cooperative society for farming. Paikra was upset and worried for the last couple of days over how would he repay his loans. He locked himself in a room at home on Tuesday afternoon and hanged himself from the ceiling, said a family member of the deceased. Surguja Collector Kiran Kaushal, however, denied that the burden of loan led the farmer to take the extreme step.
The investigation by local police and administrative officials has revealed that debt was not the cause of his suicide. Prima facie it seems the farmer ended his life because of personal issues, the collector said.
The opposition Congress, meanwhile, claimed that at least 12 farmers have committed suicide in Chhattisgarh this month. State Congress chief Bhupesh Baghel sought a compensation of Rs 1 crore to the family of each of the deceased farmers, besides several reliefs for the cultivators, including loan waiver, bonus and a high minimum support price for paddy.
“Unable to cope up with the mounting pressure of debts, the farmers are forced to commit suicide in the state. At least 12 farmers have ended their lives in last 10 days,” Baghel said at a press conference in Raipur.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau, 854 farmers committed suicide in the state in 2015, out of whom eight cultivators were from Chief Minister Raman Singh’s Rajnandgaon constituency, Baghel claimed.
“The rampant incidents of suicide by farmers clearly indicate that the cultivators are going through the worst phase of their lives under this government,” he alleged.
Neither the state government is fulfilling its promises to them, nor it is ready to pay compensation to the deceased farmers’ families, he said.
“The Raman Singh government is insensitive towards the cultivators and has been ignoring their welfare,” he charged. He said the chief minister does not even have the time to meet the families of the deceased farmers.
Baghel said his party leaders on Tuesday visited the homes of some farmers who committed suicide this month and claimed that they took the extreme step due to their increasing loan burden. He demanded that the families of 12 farmers, who committed suicide this month, should be given a compensation of Rs 1 crore each. He also demanded that the loans and pending electricity bills of the farmers should be waived.
The BJP should not ignore the welfare of farmers. It should fulfil its poll promise of providing Rs 300 bonus and minimum support price of Rs 2,100 to them for each quintal of paddy, he said.
Meanwhile, the state Congress announced to give a financial aid of Rs 50,000 to the kin of three farmers two from Mahasamund district and another from Dhamtari who allegedly committed suicide earlier this month.