The Tamil Nadu government on Friday, in a filing to the Supreme Court, claimed no farmer had committed suicide in the state because of drought. The Edappadi Palaniswami administration alleged that some had killed themselves over personal reasons, even as farmers objected, saying their debts and the drought were the primary factors that led them to take the step.
In its affidavit, the Tamil Nadu government said 82 farmers had died because of age, and that half these deaths were a result of prolonged illnesses, family situations and other reasons. It also asserted that steps were being taken to tackle the acute shortage of water in the state, for which “close to Rs 2.6 crore had been disbursed”, according to NewsX.
On April 13, the Supreme Court had called the farmers’ suicides in Tamil Nadu a humanitarian crisis and sought a reply from the state government. The bench had said it was “painful to hear farmers are committing suicide, and the state government is not taking enough steps”. The petitioners had earlier approached the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court.
Farmers from Tamil Nadu had been protesting in Delhi’s Jantar Mantar for 41 days, using a number of tactics to draw attention to their plight, before they called it off. Their agitation was aimed at seeking drought relief funds from the Centre and intervention by Prime Minister Narendra Modi in the matter.
On April 23, Palaniswami had met them at Jantar Mantar and promised to look into their grievances and highlight them to Modi, after which the farmers had called off their strike. However, they had warned to resume the agitation if their demands were not met by May 25.