by Uma Sudhir, Edited by Deepshikha Ghosh
Medak, Telangana: On June 6, Beeraiah, a farmer in Telangana’s Medak district, made a strange phone call to his village headman after dinner. “Please look after my children – you will not see me again,” he said before hanging up.
The headman rushed to his farm to find the 28-year-old hanging from a tree near his house.
Beeraiah’s story is similar to that of 100 other debt-ridden farmers who have killed themselves in the last two months in India’s newest state, which has suffered the poorest monsoon in the country.
The government is staring at the grim statistic at a time Prime Minister Narendra Modi has called for using resources and research to help farmers produce more.
For the past few days, heavy rain has filled up tanks in Telangana but for most farmers, it is too late to plant new crop. They have no money to do so.
“I don’t see too many chances of recovery,” says Lakshman Singh Rathore, director general of the Indian Meteorological Department, talking about deficient rain in the Kharif season crucial to most farmers in this region.
In Thimmakapally village, Beeraiah’s family members still can’t believe that a confident and resourceful man, who always advised others not to lose hope, could just give up.
“I thought my son would look after me in old age. Now I have to keep myself alive so his children don’t starve,” says his 65-year-old father Singaiah.
Beeraiah’s 24-year-old wife has two young children to think of – Jaswant, 7, and Devender, 5.
“Even with a good crop, we would just have enough to survive. We were never able to repay loans,” Manjula told NDTV. Now she has to find a way of surviving with her family.
Critics say the government has failed to help the farmers, the state’s new government squarely blames decades of neglect by authorities from Seemandhra, or the leftover region after the division of Andhra Pradesh on June 2 for the creation of Telangana.
“I will only blame the political system, the Seemandhra leaders and their mindset. They never tried to give water to Telangana farmers,” says State Irrigation Minister T Harish Rao.