Farmer immolates himself after not getting good MSP for cotton

Rajkot (Guj):  The ongoing Gujarat cotton farmers' agitation demanding better minimum support price (MSP) took a new turn today, after a 21-year-old farmer died due to self-immolation at the district's Vinchhiya marketing yard, because of not getting a good price for his cotton.

A 21-year-old farmer from Vinchhiya town of Jasdan taluka of the district allegedly consumed pesticide and later set himself on fire after pouring kerosene on himself, at the town's sub-marketing yard since he had failed to get a good price for his cotton produce, the police said.

"Arvind Nagani Koli (21), a resident of Dharai town in Surendranagar district, committed suicide today by immolating himself at Vinchhiya town marketing yard premises in Rajkot district," Vinchhiya police station sub-inspector R J Ram said.

"As per primary investigation, Koli committed suicide after failing to get higher Minimum Support Price (MSP) for his cotton crop," Ram said, adding that a probe is on to ascertain the exact cause of the incident.

Initially, Koli was given primary treatment at a nearby hospital and later referred to the Rajkot civil hospital for further treatment, he said. "Koli was critical when he was shifted here and he died after being treated briefly," Rajkot Civil Hospital's Head of Burns Department Sanjay Chauhan said.

Farmers in Gujarat have been agitating since the last month demanding an increase in MSP of cotton and groundnut crops. On Monday they had organised a massive rally in Ahmedabad in support of their demand.

On December 15, the Gujarat state government had announced a Rs 1,100-crore relief package for farmers, which was rejected by the RSS-backed farmers' body, Bharatiya Kisan Sangh.

"We had sought an increase in MSP of cotton and groundnut, but the state government did not fulfill our demand. Now we plan to stage more agitations," former Rajkot BJP MP and leader of Khedut Ladat Samiti, Shivlal Vekariya, said in a release.

"The state government is trying to fool farmers by announcing such package" Vekariya said. Meanwhile, the Bharatiya Kisan Sangh (BKS) in Rajkot has announced a Vinchhiya bandh call tomorrow.

"Farmers have been agitating for an increase in MSP of cotton. The BKS (Rajkot) has decided to oppose the Krushi Mahotsav to be held tomorrow in Jasdan town," BKS president Suresh Patel said.

"Farmers will wave black flags during tomorrow's Krushi Mahotsav to be held in Modasa, which Gujarat Chief Minister Anandiben Patel is likely to attend," they said. The Central government has fixed cotton's MSP at Rs 810 per bale, but farmers said that they incur huge losses due to the low MSP and have demanded that it should be increased to Rs 1,500 per bale.

This year's cotton crop in the state has been robust but prices nosedived in the open market, leaving farmers in lurch, due to lack of international demand.

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