‘217 farmers ended their lives since 2011’

 

‘217 farmers ended their lives since 2011’

first_imgPratima Kuikuri and Sanatan Dhara travelled all the way from Hooghly and Purba Bardhaman districts respectively to take part in a farmers’ rally called by All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS), the peasants’ wing of the Communist Party of India (Marxist), at Kolkata’s Rani Rashmoni Avenue.Both Ms. Kuikuri and Mr. Dhara have lost someone close to them to “agrarian distress” in the State. Sharing her plight with the gathering, Ms. Kuikuri said: “I have come all the way from Tarakeshwar in Hooghly. My husband was a potato farmer. He had a loan of ₹3 lakh.”Mr. Dhara said his brother Dinobandhu Dhara “killed himself” on May 29, 2015, after his crop, cultivated on 5 acres of land, failed.The rally, organised recently, aimed to highlight the crisis being faced by farmers in the State. Representatives of AIKS brought family members of more than 40 farmers who had killed themselves in the State since 2011 when the Trinamool Congress came to power.Gayatri Malik from Bardhaman and Asha Durlad from Haripal in Hooghly, whose husbands had ended their lives, were also on the stage. “We do not have much education to speak on stage, but we have not got any help from the State,” Ms. Malik said.According to the AIKS, 217 farmers have killed themselves in West Bengal since 2011 due to farm distress. In 2019, as many as 22 farmers ended their lives till August-end, claimed AIKS members.AIKS State secretary Amal Halder said that out of 217 deaths, 150 had been reported in Bardhaman alone. Mr. Halder, a central committee member of the CPI(M), said Bardhaman (both Purba and Paschim) and Hooghly are the worst-affected by agrarian distress.“Do not take your own lives, instead fight against those who are putting you in such a situation. It is better to die fighting, taking a bullet from police than wasting your life in helplessness,” an AIKS leader said while addressing the gathering.‘Multiple reasons’ Dismissing the allegations, West Bengal Agriculture Minister Asish Banerjee said that the CPI(M) and its farmers’ front are spreading lies. “Not a single case of farmer ending their lives due to agrarian distress has come to our notice since the change of government in 2011,” he said. The Minister said multiple reasons such as ailments and family problems have led to farmers’ death, but not agrarian distress.According to data on accidental deaths and people killing themselves in the country, published by the National Crime Records Bureau, in 2015, West Bengal recorded 14,310 deaths, the third highest after Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu. Despite high incidence of farmers taking their own lives, the State government has not admitted agrarian distress as the reason for even a single case.Suicide prevention helpline: 033-24637401/033-24637432; website: www.lifelinefoundation.co.in; e-mail: lifelinekolkata@gmail.comlast_img

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