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On August 1, 2022, Nishikant Dubey, BJP MP from Jharkhand’s Godda, made a statement in Parliament. He alleged that in the last eight years, the opposition did not discuss farmers’ suicide because farmers were not dying by suicide. Dubey stated in Hindi, “Did the opposition ever have a single discussion about farmers’ suicides in the last eight years? If they didn’t, it means farmers are not dying by suicide. We (BJP) have given so much power to farmers that today the farmers’ are agitating. And what is the condition of the farmer? Modi’s government was in power for the whole year and the same amount of funds was provided to the farmers. And that’s how we strengthened farmers enough to continue agitating for over a year, but no farmer died by suicide.” [Emphasis supplied]
Did no farmers die by suicide in the last eight years?
Alt News performed a Google search to investigate the statement made by MP Nishikant Dubey in the Lok Sabha. In October 2021, NDTV India published a report about farmers’ suicide in 2020. Quoting a National Crime Records Bureau (NCRB) report, the article states that a total of 1,53,052 cases of suicide were reported in 2020. Out of these, a total of 10,677 cases of suicide were reported in the agriculture sector. Of which 5,579 suicides were of farmers and 5,098 suicides were of agricultural labourers. It is worth noting that these figures represent just 2020 alone.
In his statement, Dubey referred to the eight years under the rule of Narendra Modi, i.e. from 2014 to 2021. We examined the data from 2014 to 2020. (The data for 2021 is not yet available on the NCRB website.)
A total of 1,31,666 people died by suicide in 2014. As per the data, 5,650 farmers died by suicide in 2014. There is not much of a difference between these and the 2015 figures. That year, 8,007 farmers took their own lives, out of a total of 1,33,623 deaths. The following year, a total of 1,31,008 people died by suicide. Of them, 8.7% were involved in the agriculture sector. The report states that in 2016, 11,379 people engaged in agriculture died by suicide, out of which 6,270 were farmers and 5,109 were agricultural labourers.
According to NCRB data, a total of 1,29,887 cases of suicide were registered in 2017. Of these, 8.2% were from the agriculture sector. 10,655 people employed in the agriculture sector had died by suicide, of which 5,955 were farmers and 4,700 were agricultural labourers. Similarly, in 2018, out of a total of 1,34,516 suicide cases, 10,349 were related to the agriculture sector. This figure accounts for 7.7% of the total suicide cases. In other words, in 2018, 5,763 farmers and 4,586 agricultural labourers died by suicide. At the same time, in 2019, 10,281 people working in the agricultural sector died by suicide, which accounts for 7.4% of the total figures. Of these, 5,957 were farmers and 4,324 were agricultural labourers.
An Aaj Tak report dated July 28, 2021, contains data on farmers’ suicide in each state of India from 2017 to 2019. According to this data, Maharashtra and Karnataka reported the highest number of farmers’ suicides in the country. In Maharashtra, 2,426 farmers died by suicide in 2017, 2,239 in 2018 and 2,680 in 2019. On the other hand, in Karnataka, these figures are 1,157, 1,365 and 1,331 respectively. The same data can be found on data.gov.in on farmers’ suicides in different Indian states in 2018 and 2019.
To sum it up, according to NCRB data, between 2014 and 2020, 78,303 people involved in the agricultural sector died by suicide, of which 43,181 were farmers. These figures clearly refute the claim made by Lok Sabha MP Nishikant Dubey. Therefore, the BJP MP falsely stated that no farmers’ suicide occurred in India without citing any evidence in the Lok Sabha.
If you know someone – friend or family member – at risk of suicide, please reach out to them. The Suicide Prevention India Foundation maintains a list of telephone numbers (www.spif.in/seek-help/) they can call to speak in confidence. You could also refer them to the nearest hospital.