In a shocker, a frustrated and broke farmer Dashrath L. Kedari, greeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi on his birthday (September 17) and then jumped into a pond to end his life, his family said on Monday.
According to his brother-in-law Arvind Waghmare, the incident took place in Maharashtra’s Bankarphata village, where Kedari was working as a farmer for the past 8 years.
“That day, he seemed very depressed, but he conveyed his wishes of a long life to the PM, and then jumped into the nearby pond and killed himself. A suicide note was recovered later,” Waghmare told IANS.
In his suicide note, Kedari wished the PM a Happy Birthday and then said that it was due to the state government’s failure in ensuring Minimum Support Price that he was compelled to end his life, as he was hounded by debtors.
He recounted how the state was not giving MSP to onion, tomato and other cultivators who were ravaged by the recent floods and the losses of the pandemic.
“What should we do? You are only concerned for yourself Modi Saheb. We are not begging for alms, but what is rightly due to us. MSP must be given to us as the money-lenders are threatening us. Nobody takes risks like the farmers. Where do we go with our grievances?” Kedari said.
Taking strong cognisance, Shiv Sena spokespersons Kishore Tiwari and Dr Manisha Kayande slammed the government for its failure in tackling the agrarian crisis in the state, which is in despair with a spate of suicides.
“A farmer greets the PM and then goes on his ‘chita’ (funeral pyre), but the PM is busy bringing the ‘cheetahs’ to the country. This is the sad status in the country,” said Dr Kayande.
Tiwari said the PM must immediately come to visit the Kedari family as the state government has failed to solve the problems of farmers, or direct Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman to go and console the deceased farmers’ kin during her visit to Pune next week.
Kedari, 42, is survived by his wife Shanta and two college-going children — son Shubham, 20, and daughter Shravani, 18. Waghmare said his brother-in-law hailed from Wadgaon-Anand village and personnel from the Alephata Police Station visited the family and registered a case.
Meanwhile, at least 10,281 persons involved in the farm sector ended their lives in 2019, accounting for 7.4 per cent of the total number of suicides in India which was 139,516, suggests the Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India report 2019 by the National Crime Records Bureau.
The 2019 figure is marginally lower to 2018 when 10,348 people took their lives. The story, however, changes when one looks at suicides committed by farmers/cultivators, which is 5,957 as against 5,763 in 2018 — a three per cent increase between 2019 and 2018.
The top six states — Maharashtra (3,927 suicides), Karnataka (1,992), Andhra Pradesh (1,029), Madhya Pradesh (541), Chhattisgarh (499) and Telangana (499) — account for 83 per cent of the deaths committed by persons involved in farm sector.
The report defines farmers/cultivators as people farming either on their own land or on leased land, with or without the assistance of agricultural labourers. Surprisingly, landed farmers accounted for 86 per cent of the suicides, while the remaining 14 per cent were landless farmers.
The number of suicides by farm labourers, defined as those whose primary source of income is through farm (agriculture/horticulture) labour activities, has gone down to 4,324 in 2019, from 4,586 a year before.
The numbers highlight another worrying trend. In 17 states, more farm labourers have committed suicides than farmers, while the reverse is true for seven states.