OTHER STATES

State orders enquiry into suicide by farmers

Staff Reporter

BHUBANESWAR: With Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) upping the ante on farmers’ suicide issue in Western Orissa districts, the State government on Tuesday ordered a high level inquiry into alleged suicide by two farmers and attack on a senior government official in Sambalpur.

Agriculture Minister Damador Rout said Revenue Divisional Commissioner (northern division) had been directed to submit a report over the issues within a couple of days.

A day after face of Deputy Director of State Agriculture Department D.C. Pal was blackened over farmers’ suicide case, Sambalpur police on Tuesday arrested two BJP workers in connection with manhandling of the officer.

BJP workers had alleged that the government official had submitted a report on farmers’ suicide case without visiting the spot. The official had reportedly attributed family feuds behind farmers’ suicide.

Taking strong exceptions to manhandling of the officer, members of Orissa Agriculture Services Association threatened to stop working from Thursday if stringent action was not taken against the accused.

Addressing a press conference here on Tuesday, BJP charged that the State government had been insensitive to farmers’ suicide issue.

“At a time when drought had already disturbed the crop plans of thousands of farmers, the caterpillars had eaten away standing crops. In the midst of agrarian crisis, the State government seemed to sitting idle,” BJP leaders said. They said though Orissa was never known for farmers’ suicides, the recent incidents indicated how serious the situation was.

Compensation sought

The party demanded a compensation of Rs. 5 lakh to family of farmers who had resorted to committing suicide due to loss of crop. BJP leaders said the State government had not taken adequate steps to strengthen irrigation infrastructure in the State and no attempt was made to bring farmers under insurance cover.