GUWAHATI: As India observed Kisan Diwas amidst the ongoing farmer’s protest against the new farm laws in Delhi, the sorry state of farmers in Assam could be gauged with the fact that at least 232 people related to the farming sector in the state have committed suicides since the Sarbananda Sonowal led NDA government took over Dispur in 2016.
Kisan Diwas : What came as a major concern that the number of suicides by people related to the farming sector has almost doubled in 2019 from 2018.
As per the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, a total of 107 people related to the farming sector had committed suicide in 2019. “Out of them, at least 26 were farmers and 81 were agricultural laborers,” the report said.
In 2018, the total number of suicides by the farming sector people was 55 with some 50 agricultural labourers. Though the official figure of farmer’s suicides in 2017 in the state was missing, in 2016, some 70 farmers committed suicides in the state.
“The farmers are always been neglected, exploited and unheard in the country. In Assam also, farmers have been facing hardships. And now the government has brought the draconian farm laws. The farmers will either be forced to commit suicide or sell their lands to corporates,” said Bhoirab Bora of Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS).
The KMSS has been protesting against the new farm laws across the state calling them pro-corporate and anti-farmer. Farmers in different parts of Assam also participated in protests against the Modi government’s farm laws demanding either withdrawal or review of the new farm laws.
However, the Centre continued to back the laws terming them as beneficial for the farmers.
Low land holding, flood and irrigation: Assam, farmer’s key concern
In Assam also, farmers have been struggling with low landholding and the absence of proper irrigation facilities. “Farmers have no option but to depend on the monsoon for crops and they suffer heavy losses when rainfall is scanty. With the perennial flood, lack of cold storages and government apathy, many farmers in the state were forced to commit suicide. With the recent lockdown and loss that the farmers have faced, the farmers in the state are in deep crisis,” said Firdauz Ahmed, a farmer.
The KMSS has been demanding 12 bighas of land to indigenous landless farmers and irrigation facilities to ensure that they can cultivate at least three crops in a year.
Former chief election commissioner HS Brahma, who headed a committee to provide land to the landless people in the state, had said farmers in the state own a little over one bigha land on average, which is not adequate for survival.
Dhaijjya Konwar, KMSS leader said, “The underprivileged people in villages who do not have land, work in other’s fields and when agriculture suffers, the workers also suffer.” Amongst those who committed suicides, the biggest chunks were those of agricultural labourers.
Assam tweets for farmers
Meanwhile, Assam agriculture minister Atul Bora marking the Kisan Diwas tweeted: “Tributes to former PM Choudhary Charan Singh on his birth anniversary. Remembering his rich contributions towards farmers’ welfare. I join the grateful society thanking the farmers for their hardwork, toil & all their thankless contributions on this #NationalFarmersDay.”
Assam finance minister Himanta Biswa Sarma tweeted in Hindi and said that the Modi government has been working towards making the farmers of the country ‘prosperous’.