Haryana Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar on Thursday said that he had asked Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar for an investigation into the recent suicides by seven farmers in the state.
“The other deaths are because of natural reasons. These seven farmers committed suicide. I have requested the Chief Minister to get an investigation conducted into whether the suicides are due to losses in agriculture or some other reason,” Dhankar said.
In a damage control exercise following his remarks that farmers who commit suicide are cowards, Dhankar said his words were not used in the right context. He said, “I criticised suicide and not the farmers. Which person is in favour of suicide? I have never walked to please gods and goddesses, but I have walked for the cause of farmers. For me, farmers are above any ministerial berth.”
Taking potshots at Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi, Dhankar said that he never speaks about the farmer suicides in Amethi. He added that during the Congress regime, one farmer committed suicide every half hour.
Dhankar said the Haryana government was working on long-term measures for preventing suicides. A Crop Insurance Commission would be set up on public-private partnership mode.
Through Atal Kheti Badi Khata, farmers would be connected to the banking system. “The government is standing with farmers and the affected families. To institutionalise such cases is a double-edged sword,” he said.
Meanwhile, supporters of the Aam Aadmi Party held a protest in Chandigarh on Thursday, demanding that Haryana Agriculture Minister O P Dhankar be divested of his portfolio following his remarks on farmer suicides.