KOLKATA: Refuting West Bengal Chief Minister Mamata Banerjee’s claim that no farmer suicide in the state was linked to farm debt, Governor M K Narayanan said that the farmers were indeed killing themselves due to acute indebtedness.
“That (farmer suicides) is an issue engaging the attention of the Central and state governments. Farmer suicides are unfortunately taking place. We have to find ways to ensure that it doesn’t happen. Many of them, I suppose, are deeply in debt,” the Governor said.
Mamata had maintained that no farmer had committed suicide due to agricultural debt. “Nobody has committed suicide due to agricultural debts or because of land. The farmers, who have committed suicide, have done so because of personal loans and family reasons,” Mamata said last week in response to CPM and Congress’ allegation that farmers were committing suicide due to farm debts.
On Monday she reiterated her claim and said: “They (CPM) are lying about the farmers’ suicides. None of the people, who have committed suicide, were farmers except one. They think that they can repeat what they did during the Siddhartha Shankar Ray government. I want to remind them that that was the Congress government and this is the TC Government.”
The CPM and Congress have been alleging that at least 24 farmers have committed suicide in the last eight months of the TC rule. “The TC-led government came into power and made a lot of promise on how they will bring about change. But in the last few months, we have seen the misrule of the government. 24 farmers have committed suicide. The procurement machinery is not in place. The earlier method has been dismantled by the government,” Prakash Karat, CPM general secretary, said at the end of the four-day Central Committee meeting here. Farmers’ suicides have been reported from various districts in the state including Burdwan, Bankura, Hoogly, Malda and Jalpaiguri.
The CPM also alleged that there had been nine starvation deaths in tea gardens because of the scrapping of a Left government scheme, which provides Rs 1,500 per month to workers of the closed factories and tea gardens.