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Farmers Suicides And Protests In Madhya Pradesh Poke Holes In Government's Claims

More than 27 farmers have committed suicide in the last month.

28/06/2017 12:11 PM IST | Updated 28/06/2017 12:11 PM IST
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Ghisiya Khan, Chandra Lilhare, Pawan, Jahu and Manohar Singh committed suicide in 24 hours since last Sunday. They all belong to Madhya Pradesh where are farmer's protest -- it's epicentre in Mandsaur -- had turned violent.

IANS reported that while Pawan had incurred heavy losses from sharecropping, Lilhare owed almost Rs 2 lakh to a bank and other lenders.

Jahu's land was mortgaged and Singh also had a lone of around Rs 5 lakhs.

Like them, 27 other farmers, reeling under the pressures of financial burden had committed suicide since the farmer's protest in the beginning of June.

The protest in Mandsaur had become violent, and six farmers were killed because the police had opened fire on them.

The government, meanwhile, has either been a mute spectator or shifted blame on to the previous government.

Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan had first sat on an indefinite fast in the face of these protests, which he ended after day one. He had also hinted that there would be no loan waivers in the state since 80% of the farmers in the state got interest free loans.

Chouhan had dismissed the protests saying it was it was a Congress conspiracy.

"But Congress party, through conspiracy tried to fuel violence. Many Congress leaders did so," Chouhan had said.

The BJP meanwhile had said that loan waivers were not an issue at all in the state. BJP state head Nandkumar Singh Chauhan was quoted by News18 as saying, "MP government is extending several types of grants to farmers already and it's the first government in the world which is extending 10% subsidy on farm loans."

But the 27 suicides in the state clearly tell a different story. Each of the farmers were forced to take their own lives because they were reeling under debt.

The Opposition too has criticised the government for its apathy towards the problems being faced by farmers.

Opposition leader Ajay Singh was quoted by ANI as saying, "If Shivraj Singh Chouhan feels that he has resolved the farmers' problems then he is totally wrong. Rather than commenting on the farmers in debt crisis, the Chief Minister should sit and resolve issue on it because this matter has been there since ages. My take on this to Chouhan is that he should stop giving speeches and work on the development of the farmers.

While BJP and Chouhan have said that farmers in the state couldn't be happier, reports suggest that failure of the government to procure crops on time, or the lack of a reasonable price for produce had farmers angry.

The Hindustan Times reported that while from February 2016 to mid-February 2017, 1982 farmers and farm labourers had committed suicide, the National Crime Records Bureau said that the extreme step was taken because of crop failure, failure to sell produce and inability to repay loans.

Earlier this month Chouhan also claimed that Madhya Pradesh recorded a 20% growth in agriculture. He credited the growth to the hard work of farmers and government schemes.

However experts say otherwise. The Hindustan Times report quoted former state agriculture director GS Kaushal, "The farmers should have been affluent if 20% growth figure given by the government is to be believed."

Chouhan's silence and dismissal of the protests rings loud as more and more farmers are taking their lives because of financial burdens. Perhaps instead of overlooking the issue, it is time that the Madhya Pradesh government took constructive steps to address the issue.

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