Farmers vandalise Nice toll booths

Kheny apologises for statements on farmer suicides

Farmers vandalise Nice toll booths

Around 50 persons belonging to Kasturi Karnataka Janapara Vedike attacked Nice toll gates on Kanakapura Road condemning Ashok Kheny’s statement about farmer suicides in the State.

Protesters stoned the toll offices and shouted slogans against Kheny. Bidar South MLA Kheny on Thursday had attributed farmer suicides to betting, alcoholism and other such factors. He issued the statement during a film shooting at Gummanayakapalya in Bagepalli taluk.

The agitators smashed windows at the toll booth and sat on a dharna. The Talaghattapura police rushed to the spot and took them into custody. A senior police official said one of the leaders of the Kasturi Karnataka Janapara Vedike, Nitish Gowda, has been arrested in connection with the vandalism.

A day after he made the statement on farmer suicides, Kheny said he never meant to insult farmers.

Tendering an apology to farmers at a press conference in Bengaluru on Friday, Kheni said, “While reacting to the issue of farmer suicides, I did not say that they are bad people but only expressed sympathy that poor farmers are getting stuck in a system where they are not receiving help. What I meant was that bookies were misleading farmers. But I did not communicate my views properly.”

He also said it is a fact that farmers are in distress due to various reasons including the private money lending system. The government must ensure that there is no unrealistic payment of interest, he said.

Kheny said that in his constituency not a single farmer has committed suicide in the recent times. “My office has 30 staffers who function as counselors to farmers. The staff is available 24/7 on phone. When a person is in distress, all he needs is someone to lend their ears to him. And, that is what my office is doing. One farmer from my constituency committed suicide in Bhalki, due to personal problems. Otherwise, farmers are not taking the extreme step because they are receiving timely help,” he said.

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