Kanchan Singh's potato crop had failed for successive years, said his family, and he was unable to repay the loan. The farmer was also worried about his daughter's marriage scheduled next month.
'My father owed Rs 5 lakh to the bank and Rs 2 lakh to local moneylenders," the farmer's son told news agency ANI. He also said that his sister was supposed to get married in April, and now he doesn't "know what to do". The son has appealed to the Uttar Pradesh government for help.
The district administration though disagrees. "According to our investigation, the farmer committed suicide due to some personal problems or family enmity and there was no link to debts or potato produce," said sub-divisional magistrate of Agra, Prathmesh Kumar.
The district officials are investigating just how much loan the farmer had taken and from whom. Initial enquiries have revealed that the farmer could have committed suicide due to personal reasons, say officers.
In Uttar Pradesh, India's biggest potato-growing state, potato farmers are far from happy. Even after the new crop arrived in January, the state's 1,825 cold storages are still flush with last year's produce and it's a desperate situation for small and marginal farmers who are facing losses, caught between high input costs and low prices at local markets.
The centre has been under pressure, in a pre-election year, after the massive farmers' protests in Maharashtra earlier this month. Congress President Rahul Gandhi, while campaigning in Karnataka's Udupi district, yesterday targeted Prime Minister Narendra Modi, claiming that his government's policies were "not inclusive" and farmers have been ignored. Mr Gandhi said while big industrialists are getting relief, farmers are dying because of loan burden.
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