As a picture of poor farmer using his minor daughters to plough the land at a village in Madhya Pradesh went viral, officials of the local administration rushed to his help. The BJP-ruled government was criticised to no end over the plight of the farmer.

Sardar Barela of Bastanpur Pangari village in Chief Minister Shivaraj Singh Chouhan's home district Sehore was photographed using his two minor daughters to plough the land as he was too poor to afford oxen. It was reported that his two daughters had dropped out of school to help their poor father. Sardar was quoted in the media, "I do not have enough money to buy or take care of bulls for ploughing. Both my daughters quit their schooling due to financial crisis." His daughters Radhika (14) and Kunti (11) had stopped going to school since two years.

The local authorities rushed to the village and urged the farmer not to use children for such activities. He was also assured of government schemes meant for the farmers. It may be recalled here that the Madhya Pradesh government had launched a debt relief scheme after protests erupted.

 

The issue also touched a chord in Karnataka minister who wasted no time to extend help to the poor family. Energy minister DK Shivakumar - moved by the reports - quickly wrote a cheque for Rs 50,000 in the name of Sardar Barela (the farmer) which will be handed over Sardar Barela through Women's Congress unit of Madhya Pradesh. He posted the picture of the cheque on his twitter account and wrote that he was helping the farmer to buy oxen so that he could send his minor daughters to school. He also criticised the Madhya Pradesh government of the failure of their scheme under 'Beti Bachao Beti Padhao."

 

However, now, it has emerged that the MP government has debunked the whole issue. According to a PTI report, the authorities have debunked the veracity of the visuals. Sehore District Collector Tarun Kumar Pithode was quoted saying that the media "misunderstood" the photo of the girls working with "Kulpa" (an equipment that resembles a plough) as that of the actual plough. Also, the farmer's brothers have oxen with them and he was using them to till the land.

"The farmer was removing weeds with the help of a hand-operated 'Kulpa' from the midst of the already standing maize crop and was not tilling the land as was reported. Also, a plough cannot be used when the crop is standing," reports Business Standard.

Karnataka has recorded the highest number of farmers' suicides this year and various schemes announced by the Congress government seems to have failed in protecting the interests of the farmers. Recently, the State government promised a waiver of crop loan.

While the State Congress minister's gesture to the farmer of Madhya Pradesh has been widely appreciated, one wonders why such a gesture was not extended to the state's own farmers or their families? Is this another political game played at inter-state level? Only the Energy Minister has an answer to it.