The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Sugarcane suicides in PM backyard

Lucknow, Nov. 28: Hardly 100 km from Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s Lok Sabha constituency, two cane farmers of Sitapur district are reported to have committed suicide because of the mill owners refusal to buy sugarcane at anything above the minimum price fixed by the Centre.

The farmers, belonging to the backward Kurmi community, hung themselves on November 26 in Kusaila village under Mahauli police station.

The Bharatiya Kisan Union alleged that the farmers ended their lives because they could not repay loans taken from local money-lenders. The local administration, however, differed.

“It’s true that two suicides have taken place, but both farmers belonged to affluent families and inability to sell their sugarcane was not the reason,” Sitapur district police chief Narendra Kumar Singh told The Telegraph on phone.

Singh said the family members of the deceased were allowed to cremate the bodies without post-mortem and the local police had not registered any cases.

According to reports reaching here today, 45-year-old Dalganjan Varma was found hanging from a tree on the morning of November 26.

The same afternoon, Chandrika Varma (40) followed his example. He, too, was found dangling from a tree on the outskirts of the village.

When the police was informed of the two suicides in the village on November 26, a junior police official visited the village and persuaded residents to avoid getting embroiled in legal matters and cremate the bodies without the mandatory post-mortem.

According to a BKU spokesman, both farmers had borrowed money from local moneylenders in the hope that their cane crop would fetch them enough money to pay off the debts.

“However, their financial difficulties showed no signs of diminishing after local sugar mill owners refused to pay a ‘reasonable’ price,” he said. “What was finally offered (Rs 35 per quintal) was apparently too low a price,” he added.

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