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Suicide for price fear

Burdwan, Nov. 16: A debt-ridden Burdwan farmer killed himself last evening fearing poor returns for his produce, the second such suicide in two weeks in the district.

Bhabani Porel, 45, was found hanging from a tree in Chandul village around 6pm yesterday. Villagers brought him down and took him to Burdwan Medical College and Hospital where he died four hours later.

On November 6, farmer Madhab Ghosh had killed himself by consuming pesticide for similar reasons in Raina, about 40km from Bhabani’s home.

According to a relative, Bhabani had farmed his three bighas (about an acre) and also cultivated paddy in another two bighas as a sharecropper.

“But he already had 36 quintals of paddy in his barn. He had not sold the stock last year because of poor rates. He hoped that this year he would get a better price from the middlemen,” said brother-in-law Chandi Porel.

Bhabani had borrowed Rs 50,000 from neighbours and moneylenders last year for his daughter’s marriage and for cultivating his land, Chandi added.

“He was depressed because he thought that this year he would get a better price from the middlemen but the rate remained the same at Rs 880 per quintal. He often told me he was not in a position to repay his loan,” said Chandi.

The Centre has fixed the official price for paddy at Rs 1080 per quintal. But the farmers get this rate only if they directly sell their produce to rice mill owners.

Many farmers are reluctant to go to the mills as the owners deduct 3 to 4kg for every 60kg of paddy claiming that some of the crop has only husks and no grain. “We lose 3 to 4kg if we take our crop to the mills,” said Santosh Karmakar, a farmer.

Transport costs are also a factor. “To carry the crop in tractors, we have to pay Rs 5 per bag. So, we are not very eager to go directly to the mill owners,” he added.

The sub-divisional officer of Burdwan (north), Prasanta Adhikari, said: “I have asked the block development officer to carry out a thorough probe into the suicide.”

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