Debt-Ridden Haryana Farmers Talk Suicide as Rains Destroy Crops and Banks Shame Them

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Haryana farmer Jalle Singh spraying insecticide on his field, in one final, desperate attempt to save his wheat crop.


Gohana, Haryana: 


Newbie Gohana farmer, Birender Mor, 27, killed himself on March 8, very soon after unseasonal rains destroyed the wheat crop on land he was tilling on contract. He knew he wouldn't be able to start repaying the more than 10 lakh rupees loan he had borrowed from banks and others. And he couldn't bear that shame.

Now, other farmers here are also talking about suicide as an option, as almost all of them are caught in the vicious debt cycle. These farmers fear the public humiliation that occurs when banks put up photographs of loan defaulters, announcing to the world how deep their financial distress is. "Banks do this to publicly shame farmers," Satyavan Narwal, of the Bhartiya Kisan Union (BKU), told NDTV.

div id='ndtvrelcontent'></div>The Haryana government has promised immediate relief, but in Gohana, two weeks later, someone has yet to come and assess the damage.

Haryana has traditionally prospered from farming thanks to the Green revolution of the 1960s. This March though, the state has been ravaged by record rainfall and the government has estimated losses of a staggering Rs 1600 crores. As much as 25 percent of both the wheat and mustard crop has been destroyed.

For instance, the 18-acre field of Jalle Singh, another Gohana farmer, is barely visible as it's clogged with water.  When NDTV met him he was spraying insecticide on his field in one final, desperate attempt to save his wheat crop. Jalle Singh has a family of 10 to feed and he's already reeling under 10 lakhs of rupees in debt.

"This is not the first time standing crops have been destroyed," Jalle Singh told NDTV. "Every time, the debt increases. How do we support our families? Soon we will either have to take up manual labour or take a tablet and commit suicide," he added.

Farmers hold self-respect very dear to them, said the BKU's Mr Narwal. "Banks target their standing in society, and farmers are worried no one will want to marry their daughters or keep in touch with them after such a public humiliation," Mr Narwal added.

And the moneylenders have already started knocking on Jalle Singh's door.
 



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