Two allegedly debt-ridden farmers in Madhya Pradesh have committed suicide in the past 24 hours. While the body of 65-year-old Makhanlal Lomwanshi was found hanging in Bhairopur village in Hoshangabad district on Tuesday morning, 55-year-old Dulchand Keer allegedly consumed poison in Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s (pictured above) Sehore district on Monday.
Their suicides come amid massive farmers’ protests in the state, during which police had killed five farmers on June 6.
The families of both farmers said that they were crippled by debt. Lomwanshi’s kin claimed that he had sold his land to repay a loan of Rs 6 lakh taken from banks and private moneylenders. “My father was very depressed about the loan repayment,” Lohwanshi’s son Rakesh told Hindustan Times. Keer’s family, too, said he was under pressure after he borrowed Rs 8 lakh. “My father was disturbed due loan he had taken... For the last few years, he was not getting proper price for his produce,” his son Indra Kumar Keer told the daily.
However, Hoshangabad Additional Superintendent of Police Shashank Garg refused to comment. “As of now we only have primary information that the farmer’s body was found hanging from a tree...Once the statements of the kin are recorded, we will be in a condition to tell anything more,” he told The Times of India. In case of Keer’s death, the police said they were yet to ascertain if he had committed suicide. However, a case has been registered at Rehti police station, reported PTI.
Meanwhile, Madhya Pradesh Home Minister Bhupendra Singh said the farmers may have committed suicide because of personal reasons. “Aatma hatya ke niji kaaran bhi ho sakte hain, paarivaarik vivaad bhi ho sakta hai, anya kaaran bhi ho sakte hain [Suicide may have personal reasons like marital dispute],” he told ANI. The home minister also claimed that only four farmers committed suicide in the state because of debt in the past year.
This comes at a time when the state is witnessing massive agitations. Five farmers were killed during police firing in Mandsaur on June 6, triggering violent protest. The farmers had been demanding fair prices for their produce and loan waivers from the government. On June 10, Chief Minister Chouhan had assured the protesting farmers that the government will provide the right and profitable price for their produce.