In the backdrop of the massive protests by farmers in and around the national capital, Karnataka Agriculture Minister B C Patil on Thursday stirred up a controversy by calling farmers who have died by suicide “cowards”.
“The farmers who die by suicide are cowards. Only a coward who can’t take care of his wife and children commits suicide. When we have fallen (in the water), we have to swim and win,” news agency PTI quoted Patil as saying.
The Minister was explaining to bamboo growers of Ponnampet how profitable the agriculture business is, and despite that, some farmers commit suicide.
Karnataka is the only state after Maharashtra to record the most number of farm sector suicides, according to the 2019 data. Maharashtra recorded over 3,900 suicides in 2019, followed by Karnataka (1,992), Andhra Pradesh (1,029), Madhya Pradesh (541), Telangana (499) and Punjab (302).
Congress Karnataka unit spokesperson V S Ugrappa has condemned Patil’s remark and sought an apology from the minister. “It’s a disrespect to the farmers. He should apologise for it,” Ugrappa told PTI.
“No farmer wishes to end life. There are many reasons such as floods and droughts, which have not been understood and solved yet. Instead of understanding the gravity of the problem, the Minister gives such an irresponsible statement,” Ugrappa said.
Patil’s remarks come amid protests in the national capital against the three central farm legislations. The fear relating to the weakening of APMC mandis and minimum support price (MSP) regime are among the main factors behind the ongoing protests, as part of which thousands of farmers, primarily from Punjab, have gathered at the capital’s doorstep.