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Puli Raju with his lists of dead farmers

Lister of farmer suicides

Puli Raju, 42, is a government schoolteacher at Gajwel in the Medak district of Telengana. His wife is also a teacher and with two incomes they are well off, living as they do in a small town. But Raju has shown no inclination to sink comfortably into a secure existence. It is several years now that he has been taking up the problems of farmers in a troubled rural economy. He has a list of 1,800 names of farmers who have taken their own lives since 2004 because they haven’t been able to manage their fields successfully. 

Many of these farmers had small agricultural holdings and they have left behind shattered families who don’t know how to meet the debts that have devolved on them. In most instances they are also defenceless women-headed families who don’t know how to get by without men who took decisions and dealt with the outside world.
Raju filed a right to information (RTI) application to know from the government the official figure for suicides by farmers in Telengana. He was told 1,474 had taken their own lives between 1999 and 2012. The information came out of the Crime Records Bureau.

Raju disputes the figure. He says it should be around 3,000. Sitting on a divan in the small living space of his rented flat in Gajwel, he shows many lists to prove that he has been diligent in coming to the figure of 1,800 suicides since 2004. These are only those suicides that have been recorded. He is sure there are many others that haven’t come to public notice.

MET 370 FAMILIES

“I have been collecting data since 2004,” he says. “ I have interacted with 370 families. My list of 1,800 farmer suicides includes proper documentation like First Information Reports (FIR), death ...

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