Two farmers have committed suicide in Madhya Pradesh Chief Minister Shivraj Singh Chouhan’s home district Sehore, officials said on Friday.
This brings to eight the number of farmer suicides reported in the state in the past four days.
Though the police cited “illness and dispute” as the reason behind the two farmers’ suicides, the family members “disagreed” with this.
According to the police, Mukesh Yadav, 23, ended his life by consuming poison at Lachour village in Nasrullaganj on Wednesday. Besides, a 75-year-old farmer Khaju Khan committed suicide in Bapcha village by hanging himself from a tree on Thursday.
Nasrullaganj police station chief Niranjan Sharma told IANS on Friday that Mukesh got married three months ago and ended his life due to “family issues”. Another police officer said he was suffering from a stomach-related disease.
The family members of Mukesh, however, said: “they have been told by the police not to mention suicide as the cause of his death”.
Talking about the other farmer, Khaju Khan, whose body was found hanging from a tree, Siddiqiganj police station chief R.S. Chauhan said, “Khan was mentally deranged”. Contradicting him, Khan’s family members said he took the extreme step due to unavailability of manure and seeds.
The farmers in the state were on strike since June 1 demanding farm loan waiver and appropriate price for their produce.
On June 6, the agitation turned violent after the farmers pelted stones at the police. In retaliation, the police opened fire, in which five peasants were killed. One of the injured farmers died later. The farmer leaders, however, claimed eight farmers were killed in the firing.
Meanwhile, hundreds of farmers blocked major highways, including National Highway 1 linking Delhi with parts of Haryana and Punjab, on Friday following a nationwide call by farmers’ unions to demand loan waiver and enhanced MSP for produce.
The farmers blocked NH 1 near the Anaj Mandi (grain market) at Ambala in Haryana, around 45 km from here.
The protesting farmers parked their tractors on NH 1 and squatted on the road despite the sweltering heat.
“We have blocked the highway to protest against the policies of the central government. We will keep the highway blocked for three hours. We are protesting peacefully and we will not budge till the central government accepts our demands,” Haryana Kisan Union President Gurnam Singh said.
In neighbouring Punjab, farmers blocked traffic near the industrial town of Phagwara near Jalandhar, around 130 km from here.
There were reports of other highways being blocked by the farmers in Haryana and Punjab.
Heavy police presence could be seen at various places in Haryana and Punjab to maintain law and other in view of the protest by farmers.
The police diverted traffic at several places as the farmers blocked the highways.
The opposition Congress in Haryana held a rally in Kurukshetra on Friday to support the farmers.
The farmers are demanding implementation of the Swaminathan Commission report on the agriculture sector, loan waiver for debt-ridden farmers, enhanced Minimum Support Price (MSP) for crops and acceptance of other demands.