Kishan Lal did not have even the slightest idea that his brother Sohan Lal would commit suicide under the stress of mounting interest on farm loan on that day. “I had gone outside for some work. When I returned to village, I was told that my brother has committed suicide. We could not believe it. Why would someone do such a thing when you have responsibilities to feed your children. His daughter is studying in BA (first year) and his son is enrolled in 11th standard, Kisan Lal told NewsClick over phone.
The suicide of 45-year old Sohan Lal has given rise to a political storm in Rajasthan. Lal, in a viral video on social media, had alleged that he is committing suicide owing to his inability to repay the loan. Holding the Rajasthan government responsible for the suicide, he added that he had expected that his loan too will be waived off after the Congress government came to power.
The alleged suicide note read, "I am going to end my life today. Nobody is at fault in this. (Ashok) Gehlot and (Deputy Chief Minister) Sachin Pilot are responsible for my death. They had made a statement that they will waive off our loans within 10 days... What has happened to their promise? It is time to take down the government today."
Commenting on this incident, Deputy Chief Minister Sachin Pilot said, “The matter is under investigation. Whenever and wherever a person dies or commits suicide, it’s absolutely unacceptable to us. I have been told that the person was not actually in debt, in terms of loans, but whatever may be the matter, someone has died, it is a very sad incident."
Kishan Lal, however, does not agree with the statement. He said, “Sohan had taken debt from Syndicate Bank and they have confirmed it. I have gone through the statements quoting police officials saying Sohan Lal was a mental patient. It is condemnable. Instead of giving such a statement, the administration should ensure that no farmer should commit suicide.
Sopat Meghwal, a local leader of All India Kisan Sabha, told NewsClick that the latest suicide is a crude reminder that the farmers have not benefited from the farm loan waiver scheme and the crisis can not be solved without bringing other issues in the loop. “The region is home to three biggest irrigation projects including Hussainiwala. The water from the project is still being given to Pakistan whereas the farmers are not receiving enough water. Secondly, an average farmer in the area is incurring a loss of Rs 5,000 per bigha. If you cannot plug these leakages, how will farmers get the fair price? The farm loan waiver scheme was implemented in hurry and without any preparation. A farmer would get the benefit only when he gets the amount in bank account. Not a single farmer I have met has received the amount," he explained.
Devinder Sharma, agricultural expert, too, echoes the sentiment of Meghwal. Talking to NewsClick, he said, “The farm loan waiver schemes make only those farmers eligible for benefits who have taken loans from co-operative banks and not nationalised banks. I understand that the scheme should be free of riders so that the farmers in debt are free from the clutches of co-opeartive banks, private and nationalised banks. Secondly, a report by Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said that the Indian farmers have lost Rs 45 lakh crores during 2000-2017. Similarly, another NITI Aayog report suggests that there was literally zero percent growth in farmers' income in previous seven years. So, you know now where the crisis is."