Farmers' suicides drop by 10%, K'taka, M'rashtra in top

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Farmers' suicides in India registered an almost 10% decline in 2016 — from 12,602 in 2015 to 11,379 — with Maharashtra and Karnataka retaining the dubious distinction of being on the top of the list.

However, activists do not buy these numbers as West Bengal and Bihar record not a single case in 2016, whereas there have been many cases of farmers' suicides. Activists allege that several states have not given the correct picture.

According to the Accident Deaths and Suicides Death in India 2016 report, 6,270 farmers or cultivators committed suicide while 5,109 agricultural labourers too took their own lives. In 2015, 8,007 farmers and 4,595 agricultural labourers committed suicide.

The report, which was to be released in 2017, was released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) only on Thursday after a delay of more than two years. The NCRB said this data depicts only the profession of persons who have committed suicide and has no linkage whatsoever regarding the cause of suicide.

The increase in suicides of agriculture labourers was 36% while there was an 18% decline in such incidents related to farmers. Also, among farmers, the majority (5,271) owned land.

Maharashtra topped the list with 3,661 farmers' suicides in 2016 though it registered a decline from 4,291 such incidents in the previous year. Of this, 2,550 were farmers while the rest 1,111 were agriculture workers.

However, Karnataka, which came second once again, had a spike in farmers' suicides from 1,569 to 2,079 in 2016. Of this, 1,212 were farmers and the rest 867 were agriculture workers.

Finding fault with the official figures, All India Kisan Sabha Joint Secretary Vijoo Krishnan told DH, “many states are under-reporting farmers' suicide. For example, in Tamil Nadu where the NCRB reports say there were only 381 such cases, ground reports show that there were at least 400 cultivators who committed suicide. This is above the extraordinarily high suicides by distressed agricultural workers in the drought year.”

Asked why there was a rise in the suicides of agricultural labourers, Krishnan said 2016 was a drought year and it had an impact on their livelihood. “There were no enough work for them and were in distress. Also, they could not find work through the MNREGA. Both had an impact on their livelihood,” he added.

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