Court rejects cops' claim, declares death 'farm suicide'

Court rejects cops' claim, declares death 'farm suicide'

A court in Jamnagar on Monday declared that the death of a Saurashtra farmer last year was not ''accidental'' as registered by police but a suicide. This adds credence to activists’ claim many farm suicides are being downplayed and registered as accident by police.

Last year, Anirudh Jadeja, a 50-year-old farmer had ended his life after a failed monsoon. Though the family tried hard to convince the police that Jadeja committed suicide as he was upset over crop loss and debt burden, the police refused to budge and the incident went down as an “accidental death” in police records.

The police also ignored a substantial evidence recovered from the farmer’s house– a letter addressed to the Gujarat chief minister in which Jadeja said he was in distress due to debt burden and failed crops – and cited domestic reasons for his death. Jadeja had also written that he was under constant fear that he would soon hear a knock on his door by officials of bank to which he owed Rs 11,000.

Feeling cheated and let down by the police, an unrelenting family fought an intense legal battle . On Monday , a court in Jamnagar ruled that Jadeja’s death was indeed a farm suicide.

“We had to contest the claims of the police. He was clearly under stress. He had a big family to take care of and was under extreme pressure to repay the loan, he had no option other than taking the extreme step,” said his uncle Lalji Jadeja. Already reeling under severe economic pressure, the family borrowed money and with the help of some activists fought the case tooth and nail. “The suicide had left the family without an earning member. But the family  and friends decided to fight it out. We are relieved that the court has upheld our plea,” Lalji said.

The situation in  Saurashtra is grim as the region has hardly received any rain in the last year. The last six months have been a struggle for farmers like Jadeja .
However, the government seems to be unfazed by such incidents. Last year, 62 farmers committed suicide in Gujarat due to failed monsoons. The activists claim that the number is much more as police refuse to register many such deaths as farm suicides.

Meanwhile, families of even those farmers whose death was recognised as farm suicide are yet to get any government compensation. RTI activists have been writing letters to government seeking financial assistance to farmers but to no avail.

“It is a sad state of affairs. Till September,  42 such deaths were reported and in the entire year of 2012, as many as 62 farmers committed suicide, but compensation has not been given to the kin of at least one of those farmers,” claimed RTI activist Bharatsinh Jhala.

With an indifferent government turning a deaf ear to their pleas, the farmers are looking towards the sky for a little help this year.

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