In the United States cash strapped farmers can seek government assistance and even charity dollars through fundraising efforts like Farm Aid, but in India, 25,000 farmers have sought permission to commit suicide tomorrow, by hanging, in protest for lack of compensation for having their land seized for a major construction project.
The Mathura, Uttar Pradesh, farmers over the last 17 years have had their land confiscated by the country’s Government for the construction of the Gokul Barrage, valued at $123,480 for the 700 acres of their land. Whenever the farmers have protested about lack of payment through conventional means, they have been meet with violence from the police including beatings, been fired upon, and jailed without trial..
Not only have the Mathura farmers not received compensation for the seized land, they have also faced crop damage from seasonal rains leading to 40 farmers committing suicide in despair.
Now in a bizarre PR effort to draw attention to their plight, farmers have written to the Government “asking” for permission to hang themselves, because they say death is better than the life they will face because the Government has reneged on promises to pay them for the land it has seized. They have said they would like to carry out the mass hangings tomorrow, the 69th anniversary of India’s Independence.
25,000 farmers, belonging to 11 different villages in Mathur wrote to Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, just months after they were promised electricity, water and “soil health cards” which never saw the light of day.
In their letter, under the banner Bharatiya Kisan Sanghl, they said “Despite several assurances and the matter being raked up in Parliament, the state government continues to turn a blind eye to the sufferings of the farmers”.
Now in a desperate move to get action, the farmers have written another letter to the President seeking permission to commit suicide.
One of the farmers, Roop Singh said “We have lost all and want to end our lives. We want the president’s permission,”
Government officials have asked the farmers to wait a “few days” until a court can review the matter. They said some farmers are owed money but not all of the 25,000 suicidal farmers are entitled to compensation.