Updated: April 30, 2015 6:34:32 am
A day after he kicked up a row by saying that farmers who commit suicide are cowards, Haryana agriculture minister O P Dhankar told The Indian Express on Wednesday that Haryana farmers were too brave to resort to the ‘cowardly’ act.
Dhankar said that over the years, he had visited nearly 100 families of farmers who committed suicide. “I found a helpless wife and children left behind. The farmer’s suicide did not end the family’s stress or debt. Committing suicide is cowardice. It is a crime as per law and is punishable. The farmers of Haryana are brave. They cannot commit suicide,” he said.
When asked about the deaths coinciding with the time when unseasonal rain damaged crops across the country, he said there was a need to compare the figures with those in the previous months. “Is there an increase in number? I do not want to politicise these deaths. But some people want to. All deaths are being linked to crop damage.”
On being asked if he would order a probe into the cause of deaths, Dhankar said: “We will not get into this. Once talk of giving compensation for these deaths starts, there would be more deaths. We are already compensating farmers for the crop damage. If the government starts giving compensation for suicides, It means that we are party to the crime”. He said the Haryana government is giving maximum compensation to farmers and the amount would be disbursed till May 15.
On reasons behind the decline in the farm sector, he said, “First, agriculture was for self-dependence. Now, the market forces are dominant and there is more investment. The output has not increased accordingly. There is a need for proper marketing of the products.”
“Earlier Jats, Rajputs or Yadav communities who were physically strong were farmers. The money lenders were from a different class and physically not so strong. Now, the money is in the hands of the traditional farmers who have become money-lenders. They also have the muscle power. The pressure on farmers to return loans is more.”
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