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High rate of farmer suicides alarms Church

Region in western Indian Maharashtra state records 27 deaths in 18 days

Widows of farmers who committed suicide due to crop failure Widows of farmers who committed suicide due to crop failure
  • Saji Thomas, Nagpur
  • India
  • January 19, 2011
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A Church official has expressed shock at the reported suicides of 27 farmers over the past 18 days in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra state.

The number of suicides is “shocking” and “a matter of serious concern for the Church and society,” said Father Jolly Puthenpura, from Yavtmal district where most of the deaths occurred.

“We have offered all our sympathies for the bereaved families and will do everything possible to help them,” the priest told ucanews.com today.

He blamed massive crop failure as the main reason why the farmers took their own lives.

Father Puthenpura and other local activists said they have urged the state government to compensate farmers for the loss of their crops to prevent further tragedies.

Adverse weather conditions and pests added to the region’s “alarming agrarian crisis,” said Kishor Tiwari of the Vidarbha Janandolan Samiti (society for Vidarbha mass movement).

“It is really sad that 27 farmers took their lives in the first 18 days of this month,” Tiwari told ucanews.com today.

The deaths are “a blot on our great democracy” since the country has failed to protect its farmers who feed its people, he added.

The region for the first time experienced frost during December-January that damaged cotton, pulses, maize and vegetables, Tiwari continued.

He accused government officials of refusing to compensate farmers, which has led to many killing themselves to escape harassment from money lenders.

Father Puthenpura, who directs social work in Amravati diocese, says the Church will try to reach out to bereaved families soon.
He called for more collaboration between government and social organizations to help farmers rebuild their lives.

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ID12919.1637
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