A 45-year-old farmer committed suicide at Thakri village in Rajasthan's Sri Ganganagar district on Sunday, leaving behind a farewell video and a two-page note accusing the Ashok Gehlot government of not honouring its pre-poll promise of waiving bank loans.
In fact, it was the video 45-year-old Sohan Lal Meghwal had created on his mobile and uploaded on Facebook that alerted neighbours to the fact that he was planning to kill himself. But they were too late. The farmer had already consumed poison by the time they reached his home, and he died while being taken to the Sri Ganganagar district hospital.
The farmer reportedly blamed Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot and his deputy, Sachin Pilot, in the note. "They had promised that the loans would be waived off within 10 days of their government coming to power. Their government is here now, but what has happened to their promise?" sources quoted it as saying.
His farewell video contained an emotional message for the government. "I am killing myself, but I would like to urge the Ashok Gehlot government to take note of farmers' grievances and pay back their dues. I want to apologise to my family too, if I have done them any wrong. I hope that unity returns to this village after my death," he was heard saying.
Sohan Lal Meghwal also reportedly requested his fellow-farmers to not conduct his last rites until they are freed of their debts.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Jai Singh Tanwar confirmed the recovery of the suicide note. "The note says that the loan waiver promised to him did not happen. We are investigating this claim, and also how much money he owed to debtors. Apparently, he also owned money to private banks and money lenders," he said.
However, local officials said the farmer had taken loans amounting to Rs 3 lakh from two public-sector institutions - the Oriental Bank of Commerce and the Syndicate Bank - for which he was regularly paying interest. Unfortunately, he could not benefit from the government's waiver scheme because it only covers loans of up to Rs 2 lakh issued by cooperative banks.
Sri Ganganagar Sub-Divisional Magistrate Sandeep Kakkad also attested that Sohan Lal Meghwal was no loan defaulter. "If we find that it happened due to pressure from someone, action will be taken. He was not a defaulter, he was paying his dues regularly," news agency ANI quoted him as saying.
It is estimated that over 16 lakh farmers in Rajasthan have borrowed from private banks, with which the government is still in talks. Around Rs 7,000 crore in agricultural loans have been waived since January, benefiting as many as 19 lakh farmers. The government is expected to incur a debt burden of Rs 18,000 crore.
The Congress had promised massive loan waiver schemes for farmers in Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Chhattisgarh in the run-up to the assembly elections last year. It went on to win all the three states.
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