MP farmer protest: Death toll goes up to 17 after 2 more commit suicide
Two farmers allegedly committed suicide in separate incidents in Madhya Pradesh, officials said on Tuesday, in the state hit by violent protests by farmers over plummeting crop prices and ballooning debts.
According to officials, 40-year-old Babulal Verma from Hoshangabad district died at Bhopal’s Hamidia Hospital early on Tuesday after he attempted self-immolation last Thursday and 65-year-old Laxmi Gomasta killed himself in Narsinghpur district after consuming sulphas tablets on Monday night.
The total number of farmer suicides in the central state has now risen to 17 since the protests started on June 6 in Mandsaur by farmers, who have been demanding loan waivers and better prices for their produce.
Sources said Verma owned half an acre of land and had taken a loan of Rs 7 lakh. The money lenders were pressuring him to repay the loans, which forced him to take the extreme step. He poured kerosene and set himself on fire. He was referred to Bhopal for treatment on Thursday night, but he succumbed to his injuries around 3am on Tuesday.
Hoshangabad’s sub-divisional officer of police (SDOP), SN Chaudhary, said a case of death was being registered. “We are awaiting the details from Bhopal. We will investigate why he committed suicide,” Chaudhary said.
Local sources in Narsinghpur said Gomasta had taken a loan of Rs 4 lakh and two months ago his wheat crop was destroyed in a fire. He was in distress after that, they added.
Narottam Mishra, public relations minister and spokesperson of the state government, said during a press briefing after a cabinet meeting on Tuesday that the suicides by farmers were sad and serious.
“But farmers have committed suicide for different reasons. Not all farmers committed suicide due to loan overburden,” he said.
A 55-year-old farmer hanged himself in Sehore, Chouhan’s home district, on Monday and a 35-year-old farmer ended his life in Vidisha on Sunday night.
There has been a spate of farmer suicides in the state since the violent protests erupted in Mandsaur when five farmers died in police firing during demonstrations to demand a loan waiver and better crop prices. Since June 12, a farmer has committed suicide almost every day.
The Bharatiya Janata Party government in the state has struggled to contain the acute agricultural crisis, despite assurances from chief minister Shivraj Chouhan and promises of a partial loan waiver.
(With inputs from Monika Pandey from Jabalpur )