Farmers commit suicide amidst government’s lies
Posted January 17, 2011on:
The National Crime Record Bureau (NCRB) lists that 1268 farmers committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh in 2007, 1379 in 2008 and 1395 in 2009. Even these figures must be deceptive. When a farmer committed suicide in Damoh district recently, the government promptly came out with a statement that the reason for the suicide could not be crop failure as the crop in his field was intact. Around the time the government was trying to impress upon the media about the excellent crop standing in the field of the hapless farmer, chief minister Shivraj Singh Chauhan was pleading with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Delhi for an initial relief of Rs 5,000 crore for the State’s farmers whose crops had been immeasurably damaged by the recent cold wave.
The Chauhan regime of lies and deceits does not stop at projecting an excellent crop where there is none. This can go to even criminal extent and the members of the elite Indian Administrative Service (IAS) are the willing accomplices. Shiv Prasad, a farmer in Sehore district, committed suicide by hanging himself; the reason was said to be heavy debt. When the news appeared, Collector Sandip Yadav went to his village and tried to force his wife Komalbai and other family members of the deceased to state that Shiv Prasad was mentally deranged. In anticipation of the Collector’s success, law minister Narottam Mishra, who is also the authorised spokesman for the government, stated in Bhopal that Shiv Prasad committed suicide because he was not mentally stable. If the poor Komalbai in the remote village continued to shout that her husband was not mentally deranged, so what?
Ramkrishna Kusmaria, who holds the portfolios of agricultural development and farmers’ welfare, has come out with an original explanation for the farmers’ suicides. It is because of their sins in their previous births that they have been forced to commit suicide, Kusmaria has observed in a statement. Quite some time back Kusmaria had announced 3 per cent interest on the loans to farmers. This has not yet been implemented and most of the farmers are in the clutches of the incorrigibly greedy sahukars (money lenders). Does making a statement which is not essentially true amount to committing a sin or not? One hopes Kusmaria will explain some day.
At least seven farmers are known to have committed suicide in the past one month; all were heavily under debt and desperate at the crop failure. At least three others had attempted suicide but were saved in the same period. The desperation of the farmers in Madhya Pradesh, as in several other States, is neither sudden nor new. It has been there when the State had Congress government of Digvijay Singh. Farmers’ grievances was one of the major planks in the BJP’s election promises in 2003. When Chauhan became chief minister two years later, he called himself the son of a farmer (which he has been repeating ad nauseam) and promised speedy redress of the farmers’ problems. These problems, though, have been only aggravating.
Soon after coming to power, he convened a farmers’ panchayat at his residence. Some of the promises made by him then were: the laws and rules will be changed to better serve the interest of the farmers; revenue code will be amended to provide better relief to the farmers during a calamity; continuous efforts will be made to end corruption; agriculture will be made a profitable occupation; and the government will give grants to the farmers for purchasing a pair of bullocks and a bullock cart.
The Sahukar Act of 1934 is the major scourge affecting the farmers; the other being the spurious seeds and fertilisers. Chauhan has had no time do anything about it. Or maybe, he is having a vested interest in maintaining the status quo; he is said to be under heavy pressure to periodically replenish the coffers of the party high command and also to contribute to the individual needs of the top leaders, like Lal Krishna Advani’s Rs 250-crore global election campaign on internet.
Come the 2008 Assembly elections and Chauhan, without bothering about his earlier promises, makes fresh promises that the loans of the farmers up to Rs 50,000 will be waived, subsidy will be given to farmers for purchase of generators of up to 10 HP for irrigation, employment opportunities for one lakh persons will be created every year, electricity will be supplied for 24 hours “in all the villages and cities”, a time-bound programme will be chalked out to legalise illegal colonies.
A few months after Chauhan started his second term, farmers from across the State assembled at the Lal Parade Ground in Bhopal to hold a chetavani rally (warning rally) under the aegis of the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh. Chauhan was the chief guest. There was a piquant situation when, at the end of the rally, the farmers surged towards the dais shouting about the BJP’s promise to waive their loans of up to Rs 50,000. The chief minister kept mum. He was rescued by his security personnel with difficulty.
Last month a few thousand farmers under the aegis of the Sangh took Chauhan’s intelligence network by surprise by quietly moving hundreds of tractor-trolleys to the heart of Bhopal in the dead of the night and placing them strategically on some of the main roads. The siege was lifted after three days when the chief minister virtually prostrated before them and promised to fulfil their demands. However, Shivraj Singh Chauhan will not be Shivraj Singh Chauhan if he starts doing what he says.
The Kisan leaders during the siege were heard speaking from the platform: “Shivraj calls himself the son of a farmer; then why doesn’t he listen to his father?”