Two farmers commit suicide in MP, toll rises to 15 since Mandsaur firing
Two farmers allegedly committed suicide in separate incidents in Madhya Pradesh during the past 24 hours, official said on Monday, as the BJP government struggled to contain a growing farm crisis in one of India’s foodbowl states.
Officials said one 55-year-old farmer hanged himself in Sehore, the home district of chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, while a 35-year-old farmer ended his life in Vidisha on Sunday night.
The latest incidents took the total number of agriculture-related suicides in the state to 15 since the June 6 farmers’ protests in Mandsaur, demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce.
Family members said Bansi Lal Meena, who allegedly committed suicide on Monday, had taken loans from a bank and local money lenders. Sehore is barely 40 km from capital Bhopal.
Meena’s son Manoj said his father was suffering from tension due to heavy loan burden.
AP Singh, Sehore’s additional superintendent of police, said they were trying to ascertain the reasons for the suicide.
It was the fifth suicide in the district in the last 12 days, sources said.
In Vidisha, farmer Jeevan Singh Meena committed suicide by hanging himself from a mango tree on Sunday.
According to family members, he was in depression due to financial problems.
Tehsildar Santosh Bitoliya, however, told local media it was not clear whether Meena committed suicide due to financial problems or a family dispute.
“The administration is investigating the matter to know why he committed suicide,” he said.
In Harda, a 25-year-old farmer identified only by first name Murlidhar attempted suicide by consuming insecticide. He was admitted to a local hospital. He was in an inebriated state when he took the insecticide, said sources.
Experts say the deaths are symptomatic of an agricultural crisis in several states where a crash in produce rates, rampant corruption and red-tape in procurement and aggressive money lenders have left farmers looking down the barrel.
In Madhya Pradesh, for example, a combination of a bountiful crop and a cash crunch post demonetisation left farmers with few options in a region that clocked a farmer suicide every five hours last year.
The death of five farmers in police firing in Mandsaur sparked a political slugfest in the BJP-ruled state with senior politicians such as Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi visiting the spot.
Chief minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan, who relies heavily on support from farmers to win him a fourth term in elections due next year, has promised a dialogue but not committed to a full farm loan waiver.
(With inputs from Ram Parashar from Harda)