‘He was facing acute financial crisis after a sugar factory failed to pay him’

The suicide of a sugarcane grower, who was participating in a protest outside the Suvarna Vidhana Soudha demanding remunerative price and payment of dues, triggered tension in the city on Wednesday.

Vittal Arabhavi (60) of Kankanwadi village in Raibag taluk of Belgaum district, was facing acute financial crisis after Nirani Sugar Industries Ltd., Mudhol, Bagalkot district, failed to pay him for 120 tonnes of sugarcane he supplied last year, according to the former Minister Shashikant A. Naik, who is among those leading the farmers’ agitation.

He was a marginal farmer holding 30 guntas of agricultural land. He had taken 5 acres of land on lease to grow sugarcane and was under pressure to pay the landlord, Mr. Naik said.

Mr. Arabhavi addressed farmers at the protest site for sometime and was asked to stop when he started using objectionable language against the government and Chief Minister Siddaramaiah.

Mr. Arabhavi, who later sat with the other protesters, took out a bottle of pesticide and emptied it into his mouth.

He had reportedly bought two bottles of pesticides.

He was rushed to Gopal Jina Gouda Bhartesh Homoepathy Medical College Hospital, located 50 m away from the protests site. As his condition deteriorated, the doctors on duty referred him to KLE Prabhakar Kore Hospital, about 12 km away. He died on the way to the hospital.

On learning about the incident, Mr. Siddaramaiah and some of his Cabinet colleagues visited KLE Hospital and spoke to farmers’ leaders.

Later, Mr. Siddaramaiah announced Rs. 10 lakh compensation to the kin of the deceased.

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