MP protests: Dalit farmer commits suicide in Tikamgarh, toll goes up to 23
His son says his father had taken a loan of Rs 45,000 from a local money lender to dig a well to irrigate their crops but authorities claimed the farmer may have committed suicide because he was suffering from a mental illness.india Updated: Jun 26, 2017 18:34 IST
A 65-year-old Dalit farmer allegedly hanged himself from the branch of a tree at his farm in Tikamgarh district, taking the total number of agriculture-related suicides in Madhya Pradesh to 23 since the June 6 violent protests in Mandsaur over loan waivers and better prices for farm produce.
Barelal Ahirwar’s body was found on Sunday in Futarachakra village in the arid Bundelkhand region. His son Chandrabhan said his father had taken a loan of Rs 45,000 from a local money lender to dig a well to irrigate their crops but authorities claimed Ahirwar might have committed suicide because he was suffering from a mental illness.
Chandrabhan also told the local media they had a small land holding of over two acres and used to take some land on contract farming. He said they didn’t have a good crop yield in the last few years due to drought and excessive rainfall.
“But money lender was pressuring us to repay the loan. Due to this, my father was in tension for last few days. This is why he hanged himself,” he said.
Chandrabhan said his elder brother had also taken a loan for buying material for constructing the foundation of a house under PM Aawas Yojana after which an inspection was held by officials and the first instalment of Rs 40,000 was released, he said.
Khargapur police station officer Tej Singh said a case of death has been registered in the incident.
“We have started investigating the case. Prima facie, police have come to know that Barelal was suffering from some mental illness and his treatment was also going on. He was also deaf and at times used to lose his cool and control,” he said.
“Loan repayment tension and harassment by the money lender have not come to our notice so far in the preliminary inquiry,” he added.
Last week, Raghuvir Yadav from Pali village from the same region, consumed sulphas tablets in his field. His father, Deshpat Yadav, said he had a loan of over Rs 10 lakh but authorities claimed he committed suicide over a family dispute.
Raghuvir was a contract farmer and had been suffering losses in farming for many years due to which he kept on taking loans, local sources said.
The farm crisis in Madhya Pradesh has been under the spotlight since June 6, when five farmers died in police firing during demonstrations to demand a loan waiver and better crop prices.
The spate of suicides has continued since then.
Farmers in the central state are angry because the government neither made arrangements to procure the crop on time nor intervened to ensure a reasonable price.
From February 2016 to mid-February 2017, 1,982 farmers and farm labourers reportedly committed suicide, which was one-fifth of the total suicides in the state, where 21,000 farmers have taken their lives in 16 years.
The National Crime Records Bureau attributed the reasons to crop failure, failure to sell produce, inability to repay loans, and other non-agriculture factors such as poverty and property disputes.