New Delhi: Dowry, love affairs and impotency were among the reasons for the deaths of over 1,400 farmers in India this year, union Agriculture Minister Radha Mohan Singh said on Friday.
"According to the National Crime Records Bureau, causes of (farmer) suicides include family problems, illness, drugs...dowry, love affairs and impotency," he told the Rajya Sabha in a written reply to a question as to what caused the death of so many farmers in the country.
The minister's reply, however, did not rule out debt as one of the reasons.
The remarks on suicide by over 1,400 farmers in the last one year, by the government's own admission, are bound to provide fresh fodder to a belligerent opposition, which has been targeting the Narendra Modi government on the controversial land bill, dubbed as "anti-farmer and anti-poor".
A total of 5,650 farmers committed suicide in 2014, with the maximum deaths reported from Maharashtra, Telangana and Chhattisgarh, official data revealed.
According to 'Accidental Deaths and Suicides in India 2014' report released by the bureau, of the 5,650 farmers who committed suicide, 5,178 were men and 472 were women.
"The highest incidents of 2,568 suicides of farmers were in Maharashtra (45.5 percent), followed by 898 suicides in Telangana (15.9 percent) and 826 in Madhya Pradesh (14.6 percent)," the data revealed.
"Telangana reported the maximum cases of female farmers' suicides at 31.1 percent followed closely by Madhya Pradesh (29.2 percent), and Maharashtra (14.1 percent)," it added.
Bankruptcy/indebtedness and family problems were major causes behind the suicides, accounting for 20.6 percent and 20.1 percent of the deaths respectively. Other causes included crop failure (16.8 percent) and illness (13.2 percent).
The report revealed that 65.75 percent of the farmers who committed suicide were in the age group of 30 to 60. In all, 59 were below 18 years of age. Even though 15 people took their lives every hour in 2014, the overall suicide figures witnessed a drop from 1,34,799 in 2013 to 1,31,666 in 2014, the NCRB said.
Here again, Maharashtra reported the maximum suicides (16,307), followed closely by Tamil Nadu (16,122) and West Bengal (14,310).
In addition, Bhopal reported a significant increase in the number of suicides - from 384 in 2013 to 1,064 in 2014, an increase of 177 percent, while suicides declined by 78.7 percent in Kanpur - from 648 in 2013 to 138 in 2014.