A paddy farmer in Alappuzha, India, allegedly died by suicide after failing to get timely payment for his produce and mounting debts. The deceased, Prasad, was the district president of the BJP’s Kisan Sangh.
Relatives alleged that Prasad was stressed over the non-availability of bank loans due to the e-Paddy Receipt Sheet (PRS) loan scheme, a Kerala Government initiative supported by a bank consortium to provide money to paddy farmers.
This incident is likely to trigger a political storm in the state, as the LDF Government is already facing allegations of apathy towards farmers. A statement from Raj Bhavan said that Kerala Governor Arif Mohammed Khan has left for Thiruvalla to pay his last respects to Prasad.
Before taking the extreme step, Prasad had spoken to Kisan Sangh district secretary Sivarajan about the issues he was facing. The Kisan Sangh released the audio to the media, in which Prasad can be heard complaining about the PRS loan.
According to reports, Prasad left a suicide note in which he blamed the Kerala Government for his death. He alleged that the government had pushed him into a death trap by not paying PRS loans on time, which made banks refuse to give him other loans.
As per the agreement with the consortium of banks, banks are to release money to farmers if they submit the paddy receipt sheet (PRS) issued by the Supplyco, which is responsible for procurement of paddy grains. However, the consortium has raised objections due to the government’s inordinate delay in repaying the PRS loans.
Some months ago, actor Jayasurya and Agriculture Minister P Prasad had exchanged war of words over pending dues of paddy farmers. Jayasurya had mentioned that farmers were going through huge hardship as they did not get money on time for their hard work, but Prasad refuted this and claimed that the money was being distributed through the PRS loan scheme. Several farmers had then alleged that the PRS loans were pushing them into death traps.