Kerala farmer ends life allegedly due to financial crisis; Gov, oppn criticise govt

Alappuzha: A farmer ended his life in the Kuttanad region in this southern district on Saturday allegedly due to financial problems as he did not get payment for the paddy procured by the government.

A suicide note, purportedly written by the farmer K G Prasad, accusing the Left government and some banks of being responsible for him taking the extreme step, triggered a political row in the state.

Governor Arif Muhammed Khan, who visited a hospital in nearby Thiruvalla where the deceased man’s mortal remains were kept, said farmers have been facing a huge crisis in the state and his “heart goes out to Prasad’s family”.

Expressing deep grief over the death, Leader of Opposition in the Assembly, V D Satheesan alleged that the government failed in paddy procurement and payments for farmers were due for months.

The 55-year-old Prasad, a paddy farmer hailing from Ambedkar Colony in Thakazhi here, had consumed poison on Friday night, police said.

Though he was admitted to a hospital in Thiruvalla, he died in the wee hours of today, they added.

Though police are yet to confirm if he took the extreme step due to the financial crisis, Prasad’s friends and other farmers alleged that he ended his life as he failed to get money from the government for the paddy procured from him.

In a purported suicide note written by the deceased farmer, he alleged that the state government and some banks were responsible for his death.

The letter was shown by some television channels in the morning.

The visuals of a video call, which the deceased man allegedly made just before taking the extreme step, was also telecast by the channels.

In the telephonic conversation, an emotional Prasad could be heard saying that he was a failed man in life and the banks were denying him loan over low CIBIL score.

He also alleged that he received the paddy procurement price for the last season as post-harvest credit under the Paddy Receipt Sheet (PRS) scheme and the government’s failure in repaying it was the reason for the banks to deny him loan this time.

A farmer here told reporters that though the government had procured the paddy from Prasad, it didn’t give him payment for that and instead of that he received the amount as loan.

“The state government should have paid this loan amount to the bank but they failed to do it. Naturally it lowered the CIBIL score of Prasad. When he recently approached banks for a loan, the bank authorities denied him
the amount citing his low CIBIL score,” the farmer, close to him, said.

However, a police officer said they were yet to confirm if the financial crisis was the reason for the farmer taking the extreme step.

“As per the statement we received (from relatives), a person who was very close to him died recently and Prasad was depressed due to his unexpected demise,” he told PTI.

Condoling the farmer’s death, Governor Khan said farmers generally are very constrained and living in real difficulty.

He said he would look into the matter and see what really can be done to make the situation somewhat easy for the farmers.

“I am not in a position to say…but will definitely take up this matter with the state and the central governments,” he told reporters in Thiruvalla.

He also said that the funds to be released by the central govt was already released and then where was the problem.

Earlier in the day, Khan attacked the state government alleging that they were spending money on celebrations but not giving priority to poor people.

“They are spending lavish money on celebrations. If the poor farmer…poor woman… who is on the rolls of the social welfare department is not the priority of the government, what can I say? The people of the state will take notice of it,” he added.

The opposition Congress and the BJP also came down heavily on the CPI(M)-led LDF government on the farmer’s death issue.

Senior Congress leader Satheesan said Prasad was the last victim of the state government’s brutal neglect towards farmers.

“Even in his suicide note also, Prasad registered his protest against the government,” he said and warned that if this was the authority’s approach, more farmers would take extreme steps in the southern state.

After visiting the Thiruvalla hospital, where mortal remains of the farmer were kept, BJP state chief K Surendran accused the Pinarayi Vijayan government of being responsible for Prasad’s death.

“The state government’s anti-farmer policies were the reason for his suicide,” he alleged.

The tragedy wouldn’t have happened if the farmers had been given at least the amount allotted by the Centre, Surendran added.

Meanwhile, BJP activists carrying the body of the deceased farmer, laid siege to a state highway here for some time as a mark of protest.

Agriculture Minister P Prasad is abroad and was not available for comment.
Civil Supplies Minister G R Anil, however, came out defending the government and said that PRS arrears was not the reason for the farmer’s death.

Rejecting the charges of non-payment of the loan amount by the government, he said money had been paid for the rice procured from farmers.

There was no such situation in the state in which farmers were not able to avail bank loans due to low CIBIL score because of PRS arrears, the minister further said.

Press Trust of India (PTI) is India’s premier news agency, having a reach as vast as the Indian Railways. It employs more than 400 journalists and 500 stringers to cover almost every district and small town in India.

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