Suicides by farmers rock Orissa govt

Of the five deaths, two have been reported from western Orissa’s Sambalpur district, while Nowrangpur, Balasore and Jharsuguda districts have recorded one death each. All the farmers reportedly took the extreme step due to crop loss due to erratic rainfall and loan burden.

The incidents have already sparked protests in the state. In western Orissa, the worst hit by crop loss this season, farmers blockaded roads last week.

The principal Opposition parties in the state, the Congress and the BJP, have already chalked out plans to take up the issue and corner the Patnaik government. The BJP, the ruling BJD’s former ally, has announced a statewide agitation on the issue.

State BJP leaders, including party’s Orissa unit president, Suresh Pujari, had recently joined the farmers in their road blockade in western Orissa. BJP president Rajnath Singh will soon visit the state to have a first-hand assessment of the situation. Subsequently, the matter will be taken up in the winter session of Parliament.

However, the BJD has charged the Opposition parties of politicising the sensitive issue. “Farmers’ problem is a sensitive issue. It should not be politicised,” said Agriculture Minister Rout.

Significantly, a fact-finding team constituted by the BJD has reportedly confirmed that the farmers had taken the extreme step due to crop loss and the burden of debts. The three-member team, led by Rajya Sabha member Kishore Mohanty, submitted its report to the chief minister on Friday.

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