Covering Up Catastrophe: Agrarian Crisis Overlooked in Maha Suicide
Local administration covers up real issue by saying that deaths are due to personal reasons
New Delhi: When Maharashtra chief minister Devendra Fadnavis took charge in 2014, he vowed to reduce farmer’s suicides by the end of his term. The suicides may have come down, but not the way Fadnavis would have liked them to. What’s worse is that in many instances of suicide, the local administration often tried to cover up the real issue by saying that the deaths were due to personal issues rather than the result of agrarian crisis.
In Shirur in Beed district, 22 farmers have committed suicide between January last year and April this year, but only 11 have been classified by the state as the result of the agrarian crisis. In fact, farmers alleged that the local administration is attributing these deaths to other causes to prove that suicides rates are falling, and trying to deny the .₹ 1 lakh compensati- on that a family gets after a member of the family dies.
Take, for instance, the case of Ramesh Pawar (35) who committed suicide in last September after consuming pesticide as he could not pay off his loans due to successive years of drought. But Pawar’s family was denied the .₹ 1lakh compensation, as the administration argued that his death could not have been due to crop failure as the land he tilled was not in his name, but in the name of his father — Babasaheb Pawar. “In rural areas, it’s not unusual to have the farm land in the name of the father even if the son is tilling the land,” sarpanch of Tagadgaon, Navnath Sanad, said.
But three months after his son’s death, Babasaheb, worried about how to take care of his son’s widow and three children with nothing growing in his field, killed himself by setting himself on fire.
In his dying declaration, which is with the cops, and a copy of which is with ET, Babasaheb wrote that he immolated himself as he didn’t know how to take care of his son’s wife and children. But this time too the officials in Beed came up with an excuse to deny the famiy compensation. They claimed that Babasaheb killed himself as he was disturbed about his son’s death and that his demise had nothing to do with the farm crisis. There are many such instances in rural Maharashtra, staring at you in the face. Devisha Khole (32) in Kholewadi village, for example, has lost her sanity as she smiles while describing how her husband Dadasaheb committed suicide last August due to rising debt resulting from crop failures. She has three children to support, but she too hasn’t got any money from the authorities.
Despite repeated attempts, Beed collector Naval Kishore Ram was not av-
ailable for comments. Since January last year, more than 300 people engaged in agricultural activity in Beed have killed themselves, but many have not got the compensation amount.
A dried-up well in Nashik. TNN