A 21-year-old farmer in Gujarat committed suicide by setting himself on fire for getting low price for his cotton produce in Rajkot district, Gujarat. Arvind Koli self-immolated in a local marketing yard where he had gone to sell on Wednesday.
“He died due to burn injuries sustained following self-immolation. He died in the government hospital where he was taken,” a local police inspector said, adding that the police have launched a probe.
"Koli was critical when he was shifted here and he died after brief treatment," Rajkot Civil Hospital's head of burns department Sanjay Chauhan said.
This suicide will intensify farmers' agitation in Gujarat demanding higher minimum support price (MSP) for cotton in Saurashtra region.
The Central government has fixed cotton's MSP at Rs 810 per bale, but farmers said that they incur huge losses due to low MSP and have demanded that it be increased to Rs 1,500 per bale.
“Arvind has sacrificed his life for the cause of farmers. We have been asking the state and the central government to increase the MSP so that farmers don’t suffer loses,” former Congress MP of Rajkot Kuvarji Bavalia said.
Gujarat is one of the largest cotton producing states in the country. This year also, the state had witnessed robust production but due to lack of international demand, cotton prices have crashed, causing distress among farmers.
"Farmers have been agitating for an increase in MSP of cotton. The Bhartiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) has decided to oppose the Krushi Mahotsav to be held in Rajkot," BKS (a Sangh pariwar outfit) president Suresh Patel said.
On December 15, the Gujarat government had announced a Rs 1,100-crore relief package for farmers, which was rejected by the RSS-backed farmers' body, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh and the opposition Congress.
“Instead of increasing cotton and groundnut MSP, the state government has announced package giving relief in electricity bills to farmers. We have rejected this package,” Congress MLA from Jamnagar Raghavji Patel said.