The Modi government might have announced to double farmers’ income by 2022 but the manner in which farmer suicides are increasing in Maharashtra and other parts of the country raises questions about whether the government is really serious about addressing the agrarian crisis. The suicide of 50-year-old farmer Shankar Bhaurao Chayre in Yavatmal is another incident which adds to the list of growing number of farmers who have ended their lives in the state due to rising agricultural debt. Often political parties have raised the farmer suicide incidents to target the government but no steps have been taken by the administration to resolve farmers’ woes.
Gulabrao Patil, minister of state for Co-operation said, “Farmers were expected to get remuneration for crops affected by pink bollworm. A resolution was passed in the legislative assembly for providing compensation of Rs 13,500 and Rs 7,500. However, the government has failed to disburse money on time; therefore, farmers have got frustrated and they are ending their lives.”
“The glitches in online process of farm loan waiver too have resulted into delay in sanctioning aid. Banks too have failed to implement the GR issued by the government pertaining to loan waiver,” he added.
Last month, farmers from Nashik had organised Long Kisan rally to Mumbai demanding farm loan waiver, implementation of the recommendations of the M.S. Swaminathan Commission and better compensation for land acquisition by the government. Farmers called off their stir after receiving an assurance from the government to look into their demands; however, no steps have been taken by the administration to offer relief to debt-ridden farmers yet.
Congress spokesperson Sachin Sawant said, “BJP has failed to provide minimum support price to farmers and loan waiver scheme has not yielded the desired results.”
He also said that Mantralaya has become a suicide spot for farmers. “BJP is not bothered about the problems faced by the farmers and they are working for the interest of industrialists; therefore, farmers are protesting against the government,” he added further.
On June 24, 2017, the Maharashtra government had announced the farm loan waiver scheme but the administration received flak for the manner in which it was implemented. When the scheme was announced, 89 lakh farmers were supposed to derive benefit out of it. Till January 2018, only 31 lakh farmers benefitted out of the scheme and loans worth Rs 12, 262 crores have been written off. The digitisation of loan waiver scheme too was plagued with several loopholes as more than 100 farmers have been linked to single Aadhaar number.
BJP spokesperson Prof. Suhas Pharande said, “Chayre had taken this drastic step due to pressure. Farmers should interact with local MLAs and MPs to address the problems faced by them.”
“Even though Chayre had named Modiji in the suicide note but it doesn’t mean that he is responsible. Political parties should refrain from politicising farmer suicide issue and take steps to address their concern,” he added.
Thus, a question arises that whether the BJP government at the centre and state is really serious about providing relief to the distressed farmers. Is the government bothered about the issues faced by farmers or are they merely paying lip service to it? The Modi government had promised to hike Minimum Support Price (MSP) to farmers. The government is set to complete four years in power but it is yet to fulfil this promise.
The deceased farmer Chayre has named Prime Minister Narendra Modi in his suicide note. He blamed the central government’s faulty policy for his death. Chayre was unable to receive any benefit from the state government’s loan waiver scheme. The farmer’s family refused to take his body for last rites unless they meet the Prime Minister.
Yavatmal Superintendent of Police (SP) Raj Kumar told Afternoon Voice that, “The police found a suicide note written by Chayre. It declares the name of Prime Minister Narendra Modi and holds him responsible for the suicide, but we are yet to verify its genuineness and the actual cause of the death.”
He further added that the post-mortem report is awaited; following which the authenticity of the purported suicide note would be verified.
The farmer died while he was being taken to Yavatmal city for treatment.
Chayre had taken a loan of Rs 90,000 from a local credit cooperative society and borrowed Rs 3 lakh from a private moneylender. He was a resident of Rajurwadi village under the Ghatanji police station limits in Yavatmal district.