In April, shortly after a farmer hanged himself to death during an Aam Aadmi Party rally in the heart of the national capital, BJP-run Haryana‘s Agriculture Minister had said farmers who commit suicide are “cowards” and “criminals”.
Union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh on Friday told the Rajya Sabha that it was dowry, love affairs or impotency that caused the death of over 1400 farmers in India this year, and not financial stress because of debt or bad agricultural output.
In a written reply to a question of what has caused the death of so many farmers in the country, Singh said, “According to the National Crime Records Bureau, causes of (farmer) suicides include family problems, illness, drugs… dowry, love affairs and impotency.” The minister’s reply, however, did not rule out debt as one of the reasons.
The remarks on the death of over 1400 farmers in the last one year, by the government’s own admission, is bound to provide fresh fodder to a belligerent opposition, which has been targeting the government on the controversial land bill, which has been accused of being anti-farmer and anti-poor.
“Suicide is a crime. According to the Indian law, suicide is a crime. A person who commits suicide runs away from his responsibilities. Such people are cowards and the government cannot stand by such cowards or criminals,” OP Dhankar had said in Chandigarh.
5500 farmer suicides in 2014
A total of 5,650 farmers committed suicide in 2014, with the maximum deaths being reported from Maharashtra, Telangana and Chhattisgarh, official data has revealed. According to the “Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2014” report released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), of the 5,650 farmers’ suicides, 5,178 were men and 472 were women.
“The highest incidents of 2,568 farmers’ suicides were in Maharashtra (45.5 percent), followed by 898 suicides in Telangana (15.9 percent) and 826 in Madhya Pradesh (14.6 percent),” the data revealed. “Telangana reported the maximum cases of female farmer suicides at 31.1 percent followed closely by Madhya Pradesh (29.2 percent), and Maharashtra (14.1 percent),” it added.
Bankruptcy or indebtedness and family problems were major causes behind the suicides, accounting for 20.6 percent and 20.1 percent of the deaths respectively. Other causes included crop failure (16.8 percent) and illness (13.2 percent).
The report revealed that 65.75 percent of the farmers who committed suicide were in the age group of 30 to 60 years, while 59 were below 18 years of age. Even though 15 people took their lives every hour in 2014, the overall suicide figures witnessed a drop from 1,34,799 in 2013 to 1,31,666 in 2014, the NCRB said.
Here again, Maharashtra reported the maximum suicides (16,307), followed closely by Tamil Nadu (16,122) and West Bengal (14,310). In addition, Bhopal reported a significant increase in the number of suicides — from 384 in 2013 to 1064 in 2014, an increase of 177 percent, while suicides declined by 78.7 percent in Kanpur — from 648 in 2013 to 138 in 2014.