Not a single farmer in Tamil Nadu has committed suicide. This was the Tamil Nadu government’s apathetic response to a notice issued by the Supreme Court on 13 April, asking the state government to report in two weeks’ time on the steps taken by them to address the farmer suicide issue. The court has appointed counsel Gopal Sankaranarayanan as amicus curiae in the case.
The National Crime Records Bureau report states that 12,602 farmers and agricultural labourers killed themselves in 2015 in India, with 606 suicides being recorded in Tamil Nadu.
However, the TN government would have us believe that no farmers have committed suicide in the state. This, after the farmers staged a 40-day protest in Jantar Mantar that grabbed national attention because of the gory measures the farmer took to highlight their plight.
The Supreme Court was hearing a PIL on the issue of farmer suicides, filed by the Tamil Nadu Centre for Public Interest Litigation, when it came down strongly on the state government.
The petitioners had earlier approached the Madurai bench of the Madras High Court, where the court had demanded an affidavit from the government on the steps taken by them to prevent farmer suicides.
This comes days after Chief Minister Edapaddi Palaniswami assured the farmers protesting at Jantar Mantar, on 23 April, that he would hold talks with Prime Minister and fulfil their demands.
During their protest in Delhi, the farmers resorted to shaving off half their moustaches and beards, stripping in front of the Prime Minister’s office, holding mice and dead snakes in their mouths, and hanging skulls around their necks, which they claim belong to farmers in their state who committed suicide because of mounting debt.
The protesting farmers demanded that Tamil Nadu be declared a drought-hit state, after the state faced its worst drought in 140 years. Other demands included a special relief package for farmers and waiver of debts.
(This story was originally published in The News Minute.)