Pradeep Pattanayak

The National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report showing zero farmer suicide in Odisha during the period from 2017 to 2021 has not gone down well with the state units of Congress and Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

Alleging they (BJD) have deliberately hidden data, the grand old party and the Saffron party have started cornering the conch party. 

Recently, Dambaru Harijan, a small time farmer of Nakulaguda village under Binshipur police limits in Koraput district allegedly ended his life by consuming pesticide.   

He had taken a loan of Rs 70,000 to raise crops. He took the extreme step allegedly after his standing crops got damaged in low pressure-induced rains. 

Like Dambaru Harijan, there are scores of other farmer suicide allegations which have rocked the State several times in the past. 

In a written reply to a question raised by Congress MP Saptagiri Ulaka in the Parliament, Union Agriculture Minister had said there had been no farmer suicide incidents reported from Odisha in the year 2017, 18, 19 and 2020. It has also been clear that the State government didn’t share figures of farmer suicide incidents occurred in 2021 with the NCRB. 

But the state had registered five, 23 and 20 farmer suicide cases in 2014, 2015 and 2016 respectively, said the Union Minister. 

Pertinent to mention here that the State government had accepted 48 farmer suicides during the period from 2014 to 2016. But it is denying occurrence of any such cases in the next five years commencing from 2017. 

The BJP alleged that the family members of the deceased farmers have been deprived of getting assistance from the State and Central governments.

“By hiding data on farmer suicide, the government is depriving the deceased farmers’ family members from receiving the benefits from the Central government,” said BJP Spokesperson Dillip Mohanty. 

Congress MLA Suresh Routray said the State government has done a massive injustice to the farmers by concealing the data. “The State has been placed on the top in the NCRB report with respect to assault with the intent to outrage the modesty of women. The State has also topped the list in minor girls going missing. Had it been topped the list in farmer suicide, it would have proved to be the last nail in the coffin,” added Routray. 

Reacting to the allegations, BJD leader Ramesh Chandra Chyau Patnaik said, “The allegations raised by the Opposition parties are baseless. They are not in a position to accept the truth. Laying emphasis on agriculture, Naveen Patnaik is doing overall development of farmers.”

Meanwhile, Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan has warned to take to the streets over the government hiding farmer suicide cases in the past five years.

“In Telengana and Andhra Pradesh, the respective governments are giving Rs 5 lakh and 7 lakh respectively to the families of farmers who have committed suicide. The Odisha government is trying to escape from having to pay to the deceased farmers’ families. We are going to organise a rally on October 14 and we will then demand the government to recognise farmer suicide cases," said Chairman, Naba Nirman Krushak Sangathan, Akshay Kumar.