The NCRB report gives farmers' suicide a miss … yet again

The National Crime Records Bureau has released its report, but it does not mention farmers’ suicide which has raised many questions

Arvind ShuklaArvind Shukla   24 Oct 2019 8:37 AM GMT

The NCRB report gives farmers suicide a miss … yet again

"Agricultural crisis is tantamount to farmers' suicide. No suicide would mean that there is no crisis at all. This is the strategy of the government, which is deliberately covering up the records of farmers' suicide. But then closing your eyes doesn't make the crisis fade away," said agricultural expert Devender Sharma talking about the issue of the National Crime Records Bureau's (NCRB) latest report giving farmers' suicide a miss.

The NCRB has in the third week of October released its report on nationwide crime. For the second year in a row, the NCRB has not reported farmers' suicide. In the 2015 report, there was a separate section for workers and farmers' suicide, probably, for the last time. The NCRB report is meant to be published every year but after 2015 this report is also being published with the delay of a year.

The nation's media, as well as social media, frequently report incidences of farmer's suicide from Maharashtra, Punjab, Uttar Pradesh's Bundelkhand, Karnataka, Telangana, etc. But, the latest report not mentioning it makes farmers, farmers' unions and agricultural expert question the government's motive in doing so. They allege that this is a deliberate act on the government's part.

An incidence which took place in the second week of September in Punjab made the farmers' well-wishers concerned. In Punjab's Barnala district, a 22-year-old youth from Bhojana village had ended his life by consuming pesticide. This was the fifth death from the fourth generation of the same family which has wiped off the bloodline. The youth's great-grandfather, grandfather and his brother, and father also had committed suicide before him. 50 years ago, the youth's great- grandfather Joginder Singh, having 13 acres of agricultural land, had taken a loan from a moneylender and after 10 years ended up his life. Mounting debt pushed youth's grandfather, Bhagwan Singh to take his life 25 years ago while failing to secure any income, his brother Nahar Singh had also committed suicide 10 years ago. They are survived by the grandmother, mother and a sister.

NCRB report mentioning farmers' suicide in 2015

Rajan Ksheersagar, who heads CPI's farmer union in Maharastra, said: "I give you an example of Maharashtra's Parbhani district to show you how deeply disturbed is our farmer. Here in Pathri, a farmer took his life. His brother's daughter then committed suicide and wrote a note, 'I fear lest you should too end your life like uncle worrying about expenses related to my marriage.' So not only the farmers but also their family members are committing suicide and the government is able to do little in resolving it."

Issued on December 30, 2016, the NCRB had in its report 'Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2015', informed that in 2015 12, 602 farmers and agricultural workers had committed suicide whereas, in 2014, the records had shown 12,360 deaths. So, there was a leap of 42% whereby among 12,602 suicides, 8,007 were farmers and 4,595 were agricultural workers.

State-wise, Maharashtra had fared the worst as in 2014-15 it had suffered severe drought due to which the situation had exacerbated. Maharashtra's 4,291 farmers had ended their lives in 2015 whereas 1,569 in Karnataka, 1,400 in Telangana, 1,290 in Madhya Pradesh, 954 in Chhattisgarh, 916 in Andhra Pradesh and 606 in Tamil Nadu had committed suicide. 13,754 and 11,772 people associated with agriculture had committed suicide in 2012 and 2011, respectively.

"A farmer is forced to end his end life because agricultural economy is being degraded. Farming's input costs, DAP-urea, pesticides have all become costlier and prices for the crops are plummeting. Farmers are unable to breakeven and most of them are not able to afford basic facilities like education and medical expenses. Everything had become dearer, but for farmer's crops," Rajan Ksheersagar added.

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Sardar VM Singh, who is the coordinator of Akhil Bhartiya Kisan Sangarsh Samiti, said: "The BJP government is fully aware that under its rule, the incidences of farmer's suicides have risen steadily. Choosing to ignore this, it seeks to further apply its anti-farmer decisions. Now, on November 4, Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) is to be signed upon, if suicides continue to happen, RCEP would be resisted against even more strongly and the government doesn't want that."

He added: "Four lakh farmers have committed suicide in India in the past 30 years. If the RCEP agreement happens, it would bring ruin to 10 crore milk farmers. The BJP thinks that everything is fine since it got farmers' vote in the last election, but it isn't really so. Farmers had voted under nationalistic solidarity (Pulwama). If the government believes everything is fine with agriculture then it should not hold back the information on farmers' suicides."

The RCEP is a group of nations, including India, Australia, China, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Brunei, Cambodia, Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam. Reaching an agreement, these countries would benefit from mutual free trade without import duty. India farmer organizations allege if milk and milk products come from countries like New Zealand to India then it would adversely affect 10 crore, Indian milk farmers.

The incidences of farmers' suicides are recorded in its report by the NCRB which works under the Home Ministry. The sequence of farmers' suicide has continued since 1990 and from 1995, the NCRB had begun giving it a separate mention which continued till 2015.

Devender Sharma who, for the past three decades, has been extensively writing about agricultural, food and export policies, said: "Farmers' suicide and women-related crimes segments of the NCRB report used to make the headlines. If the same won't be reported, there would be no further national debate and the issue would be gradually sidelined. This seems to be the motive behind the report not mentioning it separately."

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