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RTI power lifts veil off suicide ?epidemic?

india Updated: Nov 02, 2006 01:50 IST

Bundelkhand is UP’s Vidharba, perhaps more.

Here too scores of farmers have committed suicide either due to extreme poverty or rising debts. But there is still nothing official about it as the officialdom obviously wants the reasons for the deaths to remain in the realm of darkness. So, it conveniently avoids attributing the deaths to crop failure, hunger, debt or  drought.

But three time-MP Ganga Charan Rajput, backed by RTI power, has in a way put paid to such efforts and helped tearing off the veil of administrative secrecy to bring the extent of the tragedy to light.

This is what Rajput was given by the DIGs of Chitrakoot and Jhansi divisions under which the seven affected districts fall. In last five years (till September 2006), a total of 1,667 suicides have taken place. And the reasons for suicide in 1,556 cases have been marked as ‘unknown’.

“The reason is related to agriculture in most of the cases, but the administration never accepts it. In fact, it is one suicide a day ,” said Rajput.

Suicides by farmers and their family  in Bundelkhand region are not new. From 1995 to 1997, starvation forced 462 people to end their life. In Jhansi, 168 committed suicide in 1997, 73  due to starvation. In Lalitpur, 191 took their lives, 82 of them  to escape hunger.

On September 15, the ‘Aapada Nivarak Manch’, a network of voluntary organisations in the region, held a workshop in Jhansi to shake the administration out of its slumber.  Quoting official figures, Manch founder Sanjay Singh said: “In two months till September 15, more than a dozen farmers committed suicide.”

Now, the Manch has launched a survey to collate such statistics with full case history in all the seven districts of the region.

Each suicide has a story of its own. Take the case of the Ghos family of Tehroli Kila village in  Jhansi. Barely 24, the eldest son Babloo Ghos consumed celphos tablets in December 2005, as his crop failed and he was in no position to repay loans. He had borrowed Rs 10,000 each over two consecutive years from his in-laws and maternal uncle, respectively.

Last month, his younger brother Kamlesh attempted suicide by consuming  hair-dye, but survived. The family has had to borrow more money for Kamlesh’s treatment and the family’s food.