The National Human Rights Com-mission (NHRC) has asked the Andhra Pradesh government to submit a report regarding mass suicides by cotton farmers in the state. Recently, P Pullarao, a resident of Polavaram, Andhra Pradesh, and also an agriculturist, had lodged a complaint to NHRC about suffering of farmers in the state. According to him, the farmers committed suicide because conditions must have deteriorated beyond endurance.
R C Jain, registrar of NHRC, said that after preliminary inquiries, the Commission found it necessary to get a report from the government. NHRC has sought the requisition information before 24 March 1998.
Pullarao said that there has been 25 suicide cases since January 24, 1997 and in all, about 175 far-mers have committed suicide. Most of these suicides were committed in Karimnagar, Warangal, Prakasam, Medak, Nalgonda and Kuntur in the state, Pullarao noted (Down To Earth , Vol 6, No 19).
Not only cotton farmers but tobacco farmers are also facing serious financial crisis. The agriculturist expresses fear that tobacco farmers may be forced to follow the same path as adopted by cotton farmers in Andhra Pradesh. In his complaint, Pullarao has said that nearly five to 10 suicides are reported every week and these "mass suicides" are not normal in India. The suicides by these farmers are due to desperation as nobody is extending support to these people. The courts are not in position to intervene due to changes in various regulations and also removal of compassion in recent laws, Pullarao says.
He says that the count of suicides varies from 75 to 100 during the past three months. He stresses the Union ministry should take steps with the Andhra Pradesh government as no government agency has stepped in to understand the mental state of these farmers.
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