INDIA: Farmer’s suicide showcased at Hudhud horror photo exhibition

Sunday 26 October 2014

Date: 16 October 2014

Source: The Times of India

Type: News

Keywords: Farmer suicides

HYDERABAD: Close on the heels of cyclone Hudhud that left Visakhapatnam in tatters and other parts of coastal Andhra Pradesh in ruins, the state government seems to be staring at a public relations embarrassment.

Among the many pictures displayed at an exhibition depicting the destruction and deaths caused by Hudhud during Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s visit to the port city was a picture of a man’s body draped over the cables of an electricity transformer.

Only, it was the picture of a farmer from Adilabad district who killed himself on October 1 because of mounting losses as a result of lack of power to run his agricultural pumpset to irrigate his fields. Next to the picture was a handwritten caption that said ’loss of life’.

The farmer in question was Rathore Suresh of Lingapur village in Adilabad who electrocuted himself on a transformer as he reportedly saw no way out of a staggering debt of Rs 3 lakh.

In death, Rathore became a symbol of alleged neglect by the ruling TRS with farmers of both the Congress and TDP grabbing this to go after the state government. In fact, TDP leaders, as part of their bus yatra aimed at highlighting the issues being faced by farmers, visited Rathore’s family last Saturday and presented a cheque of Rs 50,000 as relief to his family.

Just how this picture found its way to the exhibition on the destruction caused by Hudhud tells a tale of a quick fix response to make a case for relief and rescue aid from the Centre and to present a comprehensive picture of the cyclone damage.

After it was announced that Modi was to visit Vizag, the AP government went into an overdrive to arrange all possible information for him. As part of this exercise, the government decided to have a large set of pictures depicting the havoc, sourced from newspapers published on October 13, a day after Hudhud hit the port city. Once a large stack of pictures was clipped from various newspapers, photographs of the same were sent to Visakhapatnam for selection and inclusion in the exhibition.

A senior official of the information and public relations department said the inclusion of the farmer’s picture was an inadvertent mistake and not deliberate. "Since we did not have the wherewithal for having fresh pictures taken and printed in the wake of destruction and lack of power in Visakhapatnam, we had to collect pictures from the media and sent the same to Visakhapatnam on October 13. How that picture of the deceased farmer got into the stack is something we cannot explain," another official said.

The Prime Minister was taken around the exhibition by none other than chief minister Chandrababu Naidu, his media advisor Parakala Prabhakar and senior officials. Prabhakar told TOI that "inclusion of the picture was not a deliberate attempt to impress the PM of the devastation and deaths caused by the cyclone."###

See online : The Times of India

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