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Farmer suicide after crop ruin

Behrampore, Oct. 5: Thirty-two-year-old Ashish Mondal hoped he would stock up rice for a year for his family from the crop on his five-bigha plot.

He had not bargained for the floods that inundated his farmland as well as his house in Panchkethia village in Murshidabad’s Rejinagar, about 180 km from Calcutta.

The tide came rushing in on September 24 after the Mayurakshi spilled its banks and Panchkethia was under several feet of water.

Hoping against hope that his crop would survive the flood, Ashish went to survey his land yesterday as the water started receding. His heart sank at what he saw. The crop had rotted and was not worth a paisa.

Ashish and his wife, Phulan, 26, committed suicide last night. While neighbours found Ashish’s body hanging, Phulan’s was found lying on ground, frothing at the mouth. Police said she had consumed pesticide.

“We have not found any suicide note. Preliminary investigations have revealed that husband and wife committed suicide because the crops were ruined in the flood. Ashish had also borrowed money from people for the past few years,” said district superintendent of police Rahul Srivastava.

Villagers said Ashish had borrowed about Rs 50,000 to build a one-storey house beside his father’s.

“My only son constructed a one-storey house beside mine to live separately with his wife a year ago. He had taken about Rs 50,000 as loan from various people. Yesterday, after returning from the fields, he told me that he was devastated as the entire five-bigha plot on which he had sown paddy went under water,” said Ashish’s father Naresh Mondal.

He said Ashish’s six-year-old son Babu Sona was not at home yesterday. The child had gone to visit his uncle at Kaligunj in Nadia.

A pall of gloom descended on Panchkethia as neighbours gathered to console the 55-year-old man.

“Ashish was overcome with anxiety when his crops went under several feet of water. He would tell us everyday that he hoped his crops do not rot. But we realised that there was little chance. Crops survive if they are two or three days under water. But in this case, they were under water for 10 days,” said Balaram Mondal, a neighbour.

District magistrate Subir Bhadra said the government was taking measures to help farmers who lost their crops. “We will shortly brief farmers through the agriculture department on the schemes.”

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