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Saturday, Aug 17, 2019

Suicide or accident? Questions abound over Jharkhand farmer found dead in well

Family says Baldev Mahato had taken a loan of Rs 25,000 under the Kisan Credit Card scheme and borrowed additional money from relatives. Another farmer had allegedly committed suicide under similar circumstances five days ago.

ranchi Updated: Jun 17, 2017 16:12 IST
Sanjoy Dey
Sanjoy Dey
Hindustan Times, Ranchi
Baldev Mahato’s body was found in a near-dry well in his village near Ranchi.
Baldev Mahato’s body was found in a near-dry well in his village near Ranchi.(Shutterstock)

A debt-ridden farmer at Pithoria block in the suburbs of Ranchi was found dead under mysterious circumstances on Thursday, even as the investigation into a similar incident in the same region remains inconclusive.

Police said Baldev Mahato, a 40-year-old resident of Sutiambey village, had gone to sleep early on Wednesday night. When his family members woke up the next morning, he was nowhere to be found. Upon launching a search, they found Baldev lying in a near-dry well in the neighbourhood.

Kaleshwar Mahto, another farmer who failed to repay a bank loan, had allegedly committed suicide by hanging himself from a tree in the same area on June 10. A special investigation team (SIT) was set up to probe the circumstances surrounding his death.

Chunva Oraon, Pithoria station in-charge, said police were trying to ascertain if Baldev’s death was an accident or suicide.

Ranchi deputy commissioner Manoj Kumar said the farmer didn’t seem to have committed suicide due to loan-related troubles. “The deceased was sanctioned a loan of Rs 25,000 under the Kisan Credit Card (KCC) scheme barely a week ago. He had time till next year to repay the loan. According to bank authorities, he withdrew Rs 20,000 in three instalments over the last one week. He made the last withdrawal of Rs 5,000 on Wednesday,” Kumar said, adding that there was no pressure from the bank.

“We need time to investigate the case and find the truth behind Baldev’s death. His body has been sent for an autopsy,” the deputy commissioner said.

Baldev’s family, however, insisted that he had committed suicide over loan-related issues. “Besides the KCC loan, he had also borrowed money from relatives,” said Anita Devi, his widow. “He was depressed because of the mounting debt.”

The family has about half an acre of land, where they grow beans and other vegetables. “Our crops were damaged due to lack of irrigation,” said Devi, who now has to feed their two children on her own.

Meanwhile, the SIT formed to probe Kaleshwar’s death collected pieces of evidence from the river bank where the body was cremated for DNA analysis.

Though the Jharkhand government doesn’t have a loan waiver plan, it passed an interest subvention scheme aimed at providing agricultural loans at 1% interest on Tuesday.

First Published: Jun 15, 2017 15:41 IST

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