About 10 farmers have committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh’s Sagar district during the past two months due to crop loss, but the district administration is terming the reasons as “multiple” to play down the issue, farmers said on Sunday.
Besides 10 suicides, Sagar division has witnessed six attempted suicide and six deaths due to shock following alleged crop loss and financial distress during the same period.
On Friday, one more farmer, identified as Narendra Lodhi, 20, committed suicide when his onion crop in village Suradehi wilted after power was allegedly snapped to the fields and the pumpset seized by discom on October 20, following non-payement of power dues.
Villagers alleged they had requested the officials not to take the harsh step as that might amount to crop loss for want of irrigation and put Narendra into a financial pickle. But, they didn’t listen to anyone and went on to seize some water pumping motors, starters, villagers alleged.
His family members told HT that Narendra heavily depended on the onion crop after soybean crop sown on his 1.5 acre land got destroyed due to weather vagary.
He had spent Rs 20,000 on soybean and was expected to gain Rs 2 lakh in return.
The same way he spent about Rs 10,000 on the onion crop, expecting a return of around Rs 1 lakh. He was heavily depending on the crops as he had spent about Rs 1 lakh on his mother’s surgery and house repairs.
However, villagers said after he saw his onion crop wilting following power disconnection, he chose to end his life as all his options to pay back the loan exhausted.
Narendra had lost his father Shaligram four years ago and his elder brother last year.
His mother Siyarani, who had undergone a uterus surgery, said Narendra had shared his fears with her after he saw the onion saplings drying up for want of irrigation.
“We have nobody left to feed us and government is doing nothing,” she said.
Village sarpanch Omkar Kurmi said the administration officials shouldn’t have taken such a harsh step in the wake of drought situation prevailing in the region.
He also alleged that the crop survey had been done selectively and “there was no hope of any sizable package coming our way.”
However, toeing the administration’s denial line, Deori police station officer Sandeep Ayachi said that primary investigations had revealed that Narendra had drinking and gambling habits.
Deceased farmer had no bad habits: Sarpanch
But, the sarpanch denied it and said he was a bright young farmer who was shouldering the responsibility of five persons and had no bad habits.
Toeing the police line, assistant engineer at power discom in Deori US Parashar said that they had not snapped the connection or seized the water pump. He, however, admitted that many villagers had power dues against them.
Collector AK Singh, however, played down the issue by stating that the case was being probed into and that the state government had directed all the departments not to take any coercive measures while collecting dues.
He further said in the past farmers’ suicides had multiple reasons and not crop loss alone.
Bharatiya Kisan Sangh’s district president Meharban Singh rubbished the district administration’s claim and said the farmers were in a pathetic state and committing suicide because of crop failure, whether the administration accepted it or not.
Deori MLA (Congress) Harsh Yadav hit out at the state government and said, “The state government claims to be farmer-friendly but look at what the police, revenue and electricity department are doing. We demand Rs 10 lakh compensation for the kin of the deceased.”