Four members of a sugarcane farmer's family committed suicide by consuming poison at Sunkatonnuru village in Karnataka's Mandya district on Saturday.
The victims were identified as the farmer, 35-year-old Nandish, his wife Kamala (28) and their two minor children.
According to a suicide note recovered from the scene, Mr Nandish had taken a bank loan amounting to Rs 6 lakh a few months ago. After loan retrieval agents began hounding him for the cash, he approached Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy with a loan waiver application during a grievance redressal programme. The Chief Minister's Office forwarded the loan request to the district administration.
However, even as the loan waiver process was on, the bank allegedly continued to badger Mr Nandish and his family for the money. Unable to take the pressure anymore, the family consumed poison.
Police said lab reports would determine whether the family had consumed pesticide.
The Congress-Janata Dal (Secular) alliance in the southern state had waived off all defaulted agricultural crop loans until December 31, 2017, in its budget presented earlier this year. The scheme fixed the maximum principal of the loans to be waived off at Rs 2 lakh and earmarked Rs 34,000 crore for the purpose.
As an incentive for non-defaulters, the Karnataka government also announced that it will repay Rs 25,000 or the full loan amount, whichever is lower, to every farmer who has repaid the loan. The loan waiver was a key political promise made by Mr Kumaraswamy in his party's manifesto for the last elections.
Former Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yeddyurappa termed the suicides as proof that the ruling coalition government's loan waiver scheme was a "farce". "This is what I want to ask Chief Minister Kumaraswamy: Who is responsible for these suicides? The death of this farmer's family has vindicated our statement that the coalition setup led by Kumaraswamy has not only failed to deliver the goods but also proved that their farm loan waiver scheme is a farce," the BJP leader said.
Studies show that Karnataka has been witnessing a steady decline in the yield of sugarcane, one of its most significant commercial crops, with each passing year.
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