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RTI Shows 122 Farm Suicides in WB District; No Such Data in NCRB Report

Around 122 farmers committed suicide in West Medinipur district in 2021 alone, according to a written reply to an RTI request.
RTI Shows 122 Farm Suicides in WB District; No Such Data in NCRB Report

Representational Image. Image Courtesy:  Wikimedia Commons

Kolkata: According to the latest statistics released by the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), there has been no farmer suicide in West Bengal in the past year. However, a recent Right to Information (RTI) request has revealed that 122 farmers have committed suicide in the past year in the West Medinipur district. Surprisingly, the West Bengal Govt has claimed for a couple of years that there is not a single farmer suicide case in the state.

Social worker and RTI activist Bishwanath Goswami told the People's Reporter that he had filed this RTI request on farmer suicide on July 6, 2022. He received a reply to that RTI request from the State Public Information Officer and Deputy Superintendent of Police (D&T), Paschim Medinipur, on August 27. This report provides information collected from 23 police stations in the West Medinipur district.

Around 122 farmers committed suicide in West Medinipur district in 2021, according to a written reply to Goswami’s RTI request. Of these, the most number of suicides were from Ghatal area of West Medinipur, where 63 people committed suicide in 2021. 

Significantly, BJP MLA from Ghatal Assembly Constituency, Sheetal Kapat, has no information on this matter. TMC MLA from Pingla constituency also said that he has no information about this.

According to the RTI reply (Memo No. 1605/DCRB dated 20/8/2022), apart from the 63 people in Ghatal, West Medinipur, 14 farmers have committed suicide in Goaltore, 10 in Anandpur, eight each in Keshpur and Pingla, seven each in Dantan and Mohanpur, and five farmers have committed suicide in Keshiari in the past year.

According to the same RTI data, suicides have not stopped in the current year. The data says 34 farmers have committed suicide in the West Medinipur district since January this year. Among them, the number of suicides in Ghatal is 13. Also, seven farmers committed suicide in Dantan, five each in Goaltor and Keshpur and two each in Pingla and Anandpur.

After receiving the RTI reply, Goswami wrote a letter to the State Additional DG and IG, State Crime Records Bureau, on September 9, demanding detailed information on this matter. 

According to the RTI activist, this incident falls under the category of crime data suppression and manipulation. In his letter, he also demanded information from all districts and police commissionerates in the state regarding farmer and farm-related suicides. “Farmers Suicide, every suicide related to farming/cultivation along with case details, suicide notes, primary findings, final findings, CS, change of IPC, CrPC, sections during inquiry/ investigation on the same head of crime”, Goswami wrote.

Incidentally, just a few days ago, the NCRB released two reports titled ‘Crime in India 2021’ and ‘Accidental Deaths and Suicides (ADSI) in India 2021’. The report says that the number of suicides in West Bengal in 2021 is 13,500, and the rate of suicide in WB is 13.7%, which is high among the bigger states. However, the report did not mention that any farmer had committed suicide. According to the NCRB report, no farmer or agricultural labourer committed suicide in West Bengal last year.

All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) leader Hannan Mollah told People’s Reporter, “If somebody dies after consuming alcohol, compensation is given. But the government refuses to accept it when the farmers who provide us with food are committing suicide. It is an anti-farmer attitude. There should be a massive movement on this.”

Amiya Patra, All India Agricultural Workers Union (AIAWU), West Bengal secretary, told the People’s Reporter, “If the government wants to deny that the farmers are in a dangerous situation, it cannot be suppressed in any way. When they send the information to NCRB, it gets compressed. It is a very dishonest attitude. In fact, farmer suicides are happening in all the districts of the state. It cannot be denied.”

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