`No increase in number of suicides'

GULBARGA Sept. 6. The Karnataka Home Minister, M. Mallikarjun Kharge, said here today that a study of suicides in the past seven years had shown that 600 to 680 such cases were reported in the State each year, and this year the number was within these figures.

Mr. Kharge, who is also the Chairman of the Cabinet subcommittee on drought management, said statistics on suicides in the past three years and the figures till the end of August this year showed that the number had not exceeded the 680 mark. "We are ready to provide the statistics to all Opposition parties.''

He accused the Opposition parties of politicising the suicides to tarnish the image of the Government. He said that these parties were, through their "misleading campaign," saying that all cases of suicide were related to farmers who could not repay loans after crop losses.

Mr. Kharge admitted that a few farmers had committed suicide due to their increasing loan burden. However, he said all suicides could not be put in that category and the blame shifted to the Government.

He described as frivolous the charge of the Opposition that the Government was indifferent to suicide by farmers, and said it took every suicide death seriously. Deputy commissioners and other Revenue Department officials from the districts had visited the families of farmers who had committed suicide, and extended immediate financial help to them, he said.

Mr. Kharge said it was the duty of all political parties to join hands with the Government in its efforts to stop farmers from taking the extreme step.

Referring to the statement of the former Prime Minister, H.D. Deve Gowda, in which he reportedly blamed the Government for the difficulties of farmers, Mr. Kharge said leaders of Opposition parties should not make such statements.

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