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Odisha govt denies farmer suicides

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Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government today denied outright of any farmer suicide in the State in 2016-17 fiscal for reasons related to farming.

“Not a single farmer in the State has committed suicide for reasons related to farming. In 2016-2017 fiscal there were allegations of 18 farmer suicides. These allegations were jointly probed by District Collectors and Superintendents of Police. However, none of them had committed suicide for reasons related to farming. My department is taking various measures to prevent suicides,” said Agriculture and Farmer Empowerment Minister Damodar Rout in a written reply to a starred question of Congress MLA Bhujbal Majhi in the Odisha Assembly today.

On the other hand, the Opposition has termed the joint probe reports as blatant lies.

“I can only term such reports as unfortunate. How can Collector and SP ever admit that a farmer has committed suicide when their government is not admitting it? We demand if the government has guts, it should conduct a judicial inquiry,” said senior BJP leader and MLA Pradip Purohit outside the State Assembly.

“When farmers are dying and committing suicide out of desperation in Odisha, good sense is yet to prevail on the government which is lying and claiming that farmers are not committing suicide. There is nothing more condemnable and shameful than this. Why isn’t the government admitting that farmers are committing suicides? Will it have to pay money if it admits?” asked Congress leader and Opposition Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati in his reactions on the Agriculture Minister’s reply.

Reacting to Opposition’s slamming of the government for its statement on farmer suicides, the Agriculture Minister said “I have no other option than presenting inquiry reports prepared by them. If you don’t believe these reports and call them politically motivated and allege that the government is hiding facts, then I have no reply for that.”