New Delhi: At a time when state-elections are being won on the basis of farm loan waiver and agrarian crisis is making thousands of farmers rally to the national capital, the Centre has no data on farmer suicides in the last three years, the agriculture minister said in Parliament.
Union Agriculture Minister Radhamohan Singh told the Lok Sabha that the National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB), which collects such data, has not published figures of farmer suicides since 2016.
The minister was responding to a question by Trinamool Congress leader Dinesh Trivedi, who had sought details about the number of farmers who had committed suicide since 2016 and whether the government planned to rehabilitate their families.
"The NCRB under the Ministry of Home Affairs compiles and disseminates information on suicides... These reports on suicides are available up to 2015 on its website. The reports for the year 2016 onwards have not been published yet," the minister said in a written reply that detailed other steps taken by the government in a country where 70 percent of the population relies on agriculture.
Data for each year is published the following year in a report titled "Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India".
In 2015, the report reveals, over 8,000 farmers committed suicide. Maharashtra had the highest number (3,030), followed by Telangana (1,358) and Karnataka (1,197). Over 4,500 agricultural labourers committed suicide. That year, the report began publishing reasons for farm suicides. Most suicides were because of debts and bankruptcy.
Since then, there have been several agitations by farmers—last year, five farmers were killed in police firing during a protest in Madhya Pradesh's Mandsaur—but no official data on suicides. This was flagged recently by journalist P Sainath, who participated in a farmers' march and protest in Delhi last month.
In 2014, the crime records bureau reported 5,650 farmer suicides. That year, the bureau started separating data for farmers and agricultural labourers.