In further embarrassment to the Mamata Banerjee government, a 53-year-old farmer of Burdwan committed suicide on Saturday.
Around 9am, villagers spotted Bhutnath Pal hanging from a tamarind tree near his house in Ketugram. The police later sent the body for autopsy.
The marginal paddy farmer was reportedly depressed over his poor financial state. “Recently, we sent our 15-year-old son Tapan to work at a tea stall in Kolkata.
Adding to our woes, my pregnant daughter came to us for treatment. We had no money to bear the additional expense and my husband could not bear the plight anymore,” said Pal’s widow Attuni.
Over the years, the cost of farming has escalated sharply but procurement rates have not kept pace, making sustenance difficult for farmers like Pal. While governor MK Narayanan joined Banerjee’s opponents in condemning the suicides, the Congress, her ally at the Centre and state, formed a fact-finding team to probe cases.
With more than 25 farmer suicides in the state since she took over the reins, Banerjee has come under flak from the opposition.
“Even if a crorepati commits suicide the state government should look into it seriously,” said CPI MP Pramod Pradhan.
“I don’t know if she is even thinking along those lines (not engaging the affected farmers in 100-day work schemes),” said state Congress chief Pradip Bhattacharya. “In West Bengal, a hooch victim gets R2 lakh, but poor farmers get nothing,” said Rahul Sinha, BJP state president.