Odisha Assembly Standing Committee to probe farmer suicide case

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Bhubaneswar: Ending the six-day long logjam in Odisha Assembly over farmer suicide cases in the state, Speaker Niranjan Pujari on Tuesday ordered a Standing Committee probe into the death of farmer Hadu Bagarti.

“I realise that the Bargarh farmer’s death is a fit case for investigation as raised by the Leader of Opposition and opposition members in the Assembly. Agriculture department comes under the purview of the Standing Committee-II,” Pujari said in his ruling.

Stating that 12 members of the Standing Committee-II comprised MLAs from all parties, Pujari said “I hope the Committee impartially probe into the death of the farmer.”

The Standing Committee-II is headed by senior BJD member Pramila Mallick and has three Congress MLAs and a BJP MLA as members. BJP state president Basant Kumar Panda is the lone member from the party in the Committee.

Pujari also said the Committee, after a detailed investigation into the matter, would submit its report in the House in the next session of the Assembly.

The Speaker’s ruling came after Assembly proceedings were disrupted for six days with the opposition Congress and BJP members demanding a House Committee probe into the death of Hadu Bagarti and other farmers.

The Congress members also demanded suspension of Bargarh district Collector, who in an earlier report had claimed that Bagarti had committed suicide, but for some other reason which has no link with crop failure or debt burden.

The Congress had also served a privilege notice against state Agriculture minister Pradeep Maharathy accusing him of misleading the Assembly on the suicide of Hadu Bagarti.

“Action should be taken to punish the minister and the officials responsible for misleading the House and for breach of privilege,” Leader of Opposition Narasingha Mishra said.

Also read: Uproar in Odisha Assembly on farmers’ issues

Maharathy in a statement on March 4 had said the farmer had committed suicide after a dispute with his wife.

Bagarti had consumed pesticide on February 26 and subsequently died at a hospital on February 28. The minister has admitted that the farmer had incurred a loan of Rs 18,818 from the cooperative service society.

The wife of the deceased farmer had, however, denied any quarrel with her husband and claimed Bagarti committed suicide because of crop failure and loan burden.

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