Cov­er­ing Up Catas­tro­phe: Agrar­ian Crisis Over­looked in Maha Sui­cide

Lo­cal ad­min­is­tra­tion cov­ers up real is­sue by say­ing that deaths are due to per­sonal rea­sons

The Economic Times - - Pure Politics - Kr­ishna.Ku­mar@ times­

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

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