Farmer’s suicide triggers protests in India

Police launch probe into death of farmer who hanged himself from tree during rally against land acquisition law.

Opposition parties have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ignoring the cause of farmers [Reuters]
Opposition parties have accused Prime Minister Narendra Modi of ignoring the cause of farmers [Reuters]

India’s rival political parties have staged mass protests in the capital, New Delhi, as a row over the suicide of a farmer at a rally against a controversial land reform bill snowballed into a major controversy.

The ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the opposition Congress party held protests in the capital on Thursday denouncing the Aam Aadmi Party (AAP) which organised Wednesday’s rally where the farmer ended his life.

BJP supporters accused the AAP of not doing enough to stop the hanging of the farmer, identified as Gajendra Singh, adding that the party’s leader was to blame for the incident.

Meanwhile, supporters from the opposition Congress party scuffled with police outside the residence of Arvind Kejriwal, the AAP party’s leader.

Wednesday’s incident has brought Kejriwal, who also serves as the Chief Minister of Delhi into the limelight, with political parties alleging that the rally went on despite the grave incident.

Kejriwal and his party however blamed the Delhi police for inaction leading to Singh’s suicide.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi urged parties to work together as the row over Singh’s death grew into a political blame-game.

“We need to analyse where we went wrong, what were the shortcomings in the last 10 months and before that. This is a responsibility of all,” Modi told parliament.

Devinder Sharma, an Indian agricultural expert told Al Jazeera that the hands of both political parties were coloured with blood.

“They are busy scoring brownie points but they have done little to help the cause of farmers,” Sharma said.

“Successive governments, including the ruling BJP and Congress party are responsible for the grim situation.”

“The government has deliberately kept the farmers poor. The US and the EU still back their farmers with billions of dollars in subsidies, while our successive governments have been cutting down the financial support to the farmers.”

Singh, a farmer from the western state of Rajasthan, purportedly left a suicide note saying he had recently suffered crop losses, before hanging himself from a tree at a popular protest spot near India’s parliament.

Wednesday’s demonstration was held in opposition to changes to the Land Acquisition Act introduced by Modi’s government, which it said would make it easier for businesses and the government to buy land from the farmers.

Opposition activists have accused the government of diluting the land law that was passed in 2013 to favour industrialists but the government says the changes would make business easier.

A number of farmers have committed suicide across India in recent weeks.

The Times of India reported, citing the state government’s figures, that at least 600 farmers killed themselves in just Maharashtra state in the last three months alone.

In 2014, the same state reported almost 2,000 farmer suicides, the report said.

Singh reportedly left a suicide note saying he had recently suffered crop losses, before hanging himself [Hindustan Times via Getty Images]
Source : Al Jazeera, News Agencies


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