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Farmer's suicide: family relents after Maha govt's assurance

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Press Trust of India Mumbai
The family of an 84-year-old farmer who killed himself over inadequate land compensation today said it was ready to accept his body after being assured by the Maharashtra government that the amount awarded to Dharma Patil would be assessed.

The family had earlier refused to accept the body of Patil, who died last night after consuming poison a week ago for not being paid enough for his land acquired by the government for a solar power project.

His son, Narendra Patil, had said the family would not accept the body until all their demands were accepted.

As the death drew sharp reactions from the Opposition, power minister Chandrashekhar Bavankule today assured the family that the government would reassess the land valuation.

In a letter to Narendra Patil, the minister said Dharma Patil had complained about low compensation for the land as well as for the fruit-bearing trees on it, and the value of both would be reassessed. The procedure would be completed in 30 days, he wrote.

Narendra Patil later told the media that his father's body would be taken to Sindhkheda tehsil in Dhule district for the final rites.

"I have decided to accept the body... The government has assured us revaluation in 30 days," he said.

Dharma Patil, who was from Dhule district, ingested a poisonous substance at the state secretariat here on January 22 to protest against the low compensation offered by the government when his land was acquired for the plant.

He died at the J J Hospital here last night.

Narendra Patil had told reporters last week that his father got Rs 4 lakh for five acres of land. The octogenarian had been visiting the secretariat for the last three months to complain about inadequate compensation, but the visits had been of no use, he said.

The government offered an assistance of Rs 15 lakh to the farmer after he consumed poison and was admitted to a hospital, but his son refused to accept it.

"We were denied proper compensation by the state authorities for the land acquisition. Except us, everybody in our neighbourhood whose land had been acquired was given higher compensation. Why was there such a disparity?" Narendra Patil had asked earlier.

State Congress chief Ashok Chavan held the government responsible for the death.

"The government is solely responsible for this death. It should be booked under section 302 (murder) of the Indian Penal Code. Dharma Patil could have got justice if the state had intervened immediately," Chavan said.

"It shows how we value our people. The government has no control over the administration," he added.

Another Congress leader and former chief minister Prithviraj Chavan demanded a judicial probe into the issue.

"As per my information, some land agents are involved in such land acquisition deals and local revenue officials are also a part of the nexus. The farmers who agreed with such agents received higher compensation," Chavan alleged.

He said Dharma Patil's family had refused to be a part of such a nexus.

"Hence they were given very low compensation. This is a serious matter and I demand a judicial inquiry," he said.

Chavan also said the land was first acquired for a thermal power plant, but its economics could not be worked out. The state then decided to construct a solar plant there.

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council Dhananjay Munde (NCP) had said last night that the government was to be blamed for the farmer's death.

Leader of Opposition in the Assembly and Congress leader Radhakrishna Vikhe Patil echoed him. Vikhe Patil also alleged today that a state minister had purchased land in the same area after the process of acquisition began (in a bid to pocket the compensation).

The Shiv Sena, a ruling ally, issued conflicting statements on the issue. While its senior leader and Rajya Sabha member Sanjay Raut said the government should be booked for "culpable homicide", party spokesperson Neelam Gorhe blamed the earlier government.

"Ninety per cent of the blame falls on the previous Congress-NCP government and 10 per cent on the current government," Gorhe said.

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First Published: Jan 29 2018 | 7:05 PM IST

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