Lucknow: Amid the ongoing farmers' protest against the new farm laws, a 32-year-old farmer allegedly consumed a poisonous substance in a bid to end his life in Uttar Pradesh's Mirzapur district — 40 km from Prime Minister Narendra Modi's bastion Varanasi on Sunday, January 10, claiming that he was unable to sell his crop at a designated centre in the district.
Vivek Kumar Singh, a resident of Bhadawal village, is now battling for his life at Lifeline Hospital in Varanasi after attempting to die by suicide as he was allegedly harassed at the purchasing centres when he tried to sell his paddy crop. The farmer’s family has claimed that he took the extreme step following the arbitrary attitude being adopted in the name of paddy purchase. "Paddy is not being procured from the actual farmers rather these centres have been taking it from the middleman. Due to this, farmers are forced to sell their paddy crops at prices less than the Minimum Support Price (MSP)," Ramashankar, Vivek’s father told NewsClick.
"Vivek is a sharecropper who grows grain on others' land and there is no such provision of registration for such farmers to sell their paddy at the designated centre. He consumed a poisonous liquid as he could not pay the loan arrears even after the deadline. He was supposed to pay the loan selling after paddy. He was struggling to sell his paddy but middlemen were paying very less than the costs incurred. He was in under depression since he was not able to sell his paddy," said Bhakt Prakash Srivastava, leader of Kisan Sabha in Mirzapur.
Explaining about the paddy crop procurement system, Dinkar Kapoor, president of the UP Workers’ Front, told , "The irony is that the system for purchasing paddy in the adjacent districts of Prime Minister's parliamentary constituency itself is not good, leave other districts. In Mirzapur district, there was a target of 2.61 lakh metric tons from 19 centres, but so far only 41,193 metric tons of paddy has been purchased by the Department of Food, Civil Supplies & Consumer Affairs, UP Government. The farmer coming to sell is being asked to come later. They are being given a 2021 token to sell paddy. Farmers are forced to sell paddy at Rs 1,000 instead of Rs 1,868 per quintal, leaving them with very little for sowing the next crop.”
Also read: UP Farmer Dies by Suicide at Ghazipur Border Protest, Leaves Note Accusing Govt
In another incident, a farmer, who has been waiting for a week for paddy procurement, set his produce on fire on Saturday, January 9, in the Bahuara campus in Sonbhadra district. Farmers present there extinguished the fire. The police, who reached the spot later, calmed the matter and informed the authorities. Only when higher officials intervened, did the procurement of his crop began.
Tejbali Yadav, who set fire to his paddy crop as he was upset with the procedure of the committee operators, said that the multi-modal cooperative society is being subjected to gross irregularities in the purchase of paddy. For the last eight days, they have been knocking at the doors of the committee for selling their crop, but every day they had only met with assurances from the secretary. "We set fire to our paddy because of we were unable to sell it. When no one is going to buy our produce, what will we do with such a crop?," he questioned.
Interestingly, these incidents are being reported at a time when Uttar Pradesh Chief Minister Yogi Adityanath has asked officials across the districts to keep track of the middlemen during the ongoing paddy procurement in the state and ensure that farmers receive the payment for their produce in 72 hours.
Commenting over the irregularities in paddy procurement in the state, general secretary of the All India Kisan Sabha (AIKS) UP, Mukut Singh said, "The ground reality is that farmers are unable to sell it at government procurement centres due to regulations and interference of middlemen." He added that as per the new procurement norms introduced in 2018, farmers are required to register themselves for the procurement process in their respective areas after submitting personal details and land records. Based on the information provided by the farmers, sale tokens are issued to them in which the quantity and dates of sale of their produce are mentioned but for farmers who do not own land, there is no such provision to sell their paddy.