Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Nov 2:
While politics has taken centre stage over alleged suicides by members of the farming community in the state, the subsequent announcement of drought package by the Odisha government and government reports claiming that the deaths were due to reasons other than crop loss and debt burden, farmers continue to die every single day, with three more alleged farmer suicides reported from the state today.
Tungibahal in Bargarh district, Raipada in Nayagarh district and Mahalakshmipur in Cuttack district are the places from where alleged farmer suicides have been reported from the state today.
Thikadar Sahu of Tungibahal under Sohela block of Bargarh district had consumed poison allegedly due to failed crops and debt burden on October 29. Thikadar succumbed to his suicide attempt today while undergoing treatment at VIMSAR, Burla.
Similarly, Laxmidhar Bhatt of Raipada in Nayagarh district who had consumed pesticide on October 28 in an attempt to commit suicide and was undergoing treatment at the SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack died today.
Besides, another farmer Sankara Behera of Mahalaxmipur under Khuntuni police limits in Athagarh block of Cuttack district who had consumed poison and was undergoing treatment at SCB Medical College and Hospital at Cuttack passed away today.
On the other hand, a farmer identified as Asish Mallick of Gunthikani village under Bhuban block of Dhenkanal was rescued by the public while he was attempting to drink poison in order to commit suicide in front of the collector’s office at Dhenkanal today. Ashish claimed that he had attempted suicide after his crops which he had grown by taking loans had failed.
“Everyone’s paddy crop has failed, so has mine. I had taken loans from sahukars (local money lenders) they are now asking for the money they had lent. But I am in no position to repay my debts as my crops have failed. I was attempting to end my life by consuming poison when policemen and others from the public snatched the poison bottle from me,” told Asish to reporters after his failed attempt to end life.
The Congress on the other hand, has appealed to farmers to desist from taking the extreme step. Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) president Prasad Harichandan in a press meet today made an appeal to the farmers desist from committing suicides and his party will fight for their causes. He alleged that the government was grossly indifferent towards problems faced by farmers in the state. He said the Congress will hold protest demonstrations in all blocks on November 6.
The grand old party’s Deogarh district unit today observed a 12-hour bandh demanding declaration of the district as a fully drought affected district. Commercial establishments and shops remained closed and vehicles remained off the road under the influence of the bandh.
“Farmer suicides are rising in the state. The state government indifference is unpardonable. The Congress is deeply hurt and at the same time terribly angry. At such a critical time I appeal to all my brothers and sisters from the farming community that under no circumstances should they take the extreme step, said Harichandan at press briefing.
The BJP’s political affairs committee after its tour of Gunupur and Rayagada yesterday visited Kandhamal district’s different drought-hit areas which included Simanbadi, Raikia, Paburia and Kainjhar. The team led by senior BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra spoke to affected farmers and took stock of the situation arising out of drought.
“People are leaving their homes and hearths for Kerala to get something to eat, this government its machinery are yet to awaken from their slumber. This is most unfortunate. The sharecropper should get its rights. He/she won’t get compensation. So we are repeatedly asking for creation a special scheme for them so that they are benefited, let the amendment of the law take place later,” said Mohapatra.
The ruling BJD has called the Congress and BJP’s statements as routine and normal.
“Their statement is routine and normal. The government is completely aware of its functions. The chief minister has announced in clear terms whatever is required for them (farmers), for their benefit, for curbing suicides in the drought-hit areas,” said Pratap Keshari Deb in response to the allegations made by the opposition.