Debt-ridden farmers driven to suicide in Bundelkhand

Debt-ridden farmers driven to suicide in Bundelkhand

Unable to repay loans due to crop failure, many of them have migrated

Deep in debt and hounded  by banks as well as private moneylenders for repayment of loans, farmers in drought-hit Bundelkhand region in Uttar Pradesh continue to be driven to suicide.

Over a dozen small and marginal farmers have committed suicide in the impoverished districts of Bundelkhand in the past few days, according to reports.

But officials maintain they may have killed themselves over domestic reasons.

All these farmers had taken loans from public sector banks or private lenders, and failed to repay them because of crop failure.

Baijnath of Abarai village in Banda district, who had taken a loan of Rs 80,000 from a  private lender, killed himself a fortnight back. “He was being hounded by the lender,” said his wife.

Baijnath had fixed his daughter's marriage, but had to put it off because he  could not arrange the money.

Santosh Singh of Shiv village in Banda district hanged himself by a tree outside his house last week.

Singh had pledged five bighas of land to take a loan of Rs 1 lakh for the marriage of his daughter five years ago. Last year, he used his Kisan credit card to take another loan of Rs 80,000 for the marriage of his second daughter.

“He was very upset as the lenders were pressing him for repayment,” said his brother Raja Singh.

According to sources, almost all farmers in Shiv village are trapped in the vicious circle of debt.

“The farmers owe banks and private lenders around Rs 5 crore,” an official said.

The village has witnessed eight suicides in the past three years, and officials fear more deaths in the coming days. About 2,000 villagers have migrated to other places in search of livelihood.

The situation is no different in Mahoba, Hamirpur, Jhansi and Lalitpur districts of the region.

Schemes by successive regimes have failed to provide any respite to farmers.

Uttar Pradesh government is contemplating waiving loans taken by farmers from banks. A proposal on this is currently before the state cabinet.

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