Two clerks booked for Maharashtra farmer’s suicide

Nagpur, June 23 (IANS) The Maharashtra government has held two clerks ‘responsible’ for the suicide of a farmer in Yavatmal and booked them for culpable homicide, activists said here on Tuesday.

The accused are Manoj Bhagat, 50, Talati (revenue clerk) in Dharna village and Suryakiran Bhagat, a lower division clerk in the Kelapur tehsildar’s office in the district, said Yavatmal Revenue Staffers Association president Rajendra Deshmukh.

“This is unprecedented anywhere in the country…How can two clerical staffers be held responsible when promised funds by the government are not made available for disbursal to the farmers? Actually, they should hold the district collector ‘responsible’ for such incidents,” Deshmukh said.

The Pandharkavda police have charged both the clerks with culpable homicide and conspiracy to kill, among other charges for the suicide of a farmer earlier this month.

Despite repeated attempts by IANS, district collector S.P. Singh and resident deputy collector Rajesh Khawale remained unavailable for their comments.

According to Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti President Kishore Tiwari, on June 6 a farmer Madhavram Tukaram Ghode ended his life and left behind a suicide note in which he blamed the state government for his death.

“Surprisingly, the police lodged the FIR only on late Monday night though the farmer committed suicide on June 6. Why this delay? In between, a couple of days ago, top BJP leaders and ministers had visited the farmer’s home,” Tiwari said.

“I have already demanded that as the head of the government, Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis and Revenue Minister Eknath Khadse should be held responsible, not some junior clerks in remote villages…They are trying to shirk their moral responsibility and the lower officials are feeling highly insecure,” Tiwari said.

Deshmukh warned that the state government is unnecessarily victimising lower-level government officials for its own policy failures and the revenue department would launch a statewide protest to oppose the move to penalize the two clerks.

Presently, the staffers’ association has applied for anticipatory bail for the two clerks which will come up for hearing before a Pandharkavda magistrate court on Wednesday, he added.

The incident comes a week after the neighbouring Amravati Police booked the Bank of Maharashtra’s Morshi branch manager Santosh Kumar holding him ‘responsible’ for the suicide of a local farmer.

Yavatmal district is among the worst-hit by farmland suicides in the country and the state has notched up around 1,200 suicides this year, Tiwari said.

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