An unseasonal storm with heavy rain and hail killed at least 32 people, injured more than a hundred and caused heavy damage to the winter wheat crop in eastern India, officials said today.
Most of the deaths were caused yesterday night by tin roofs that were blown off of poor people’s huts by winds reaching 65 kilometres per hour in northeastern parts of Bihar state, meteorologist RK Giri said.
The storm subsided before daybreak. State administrator Vyasji said 25 deaths were reported in Purnea, six in Madhepura and one in Madhubani district. Nitish Kumar, the state’s top elected official, said the storm also damaged mango and lychee crops.
Authorities launched relief efforts in 10 districts hit by the storm. The area is about 360 kilometres northeast of Patna, the state capital. Unseasonal rain and hailstorms in March destroyed large areas of farmland in northern and western India, leading dozens of debt-ridden farmers to kill themselves. A man at a farmers’ rally in the Indian capital today climbed a tree and hanged himself with a rope.
Some volunteers of the Aam Admi Party, the rally organisers, tried to save him by untying the rope and rushing him to a hospital.
However, he was declared dead at the hospital, said S Saxena, an official of the Ram Manohar Lohia hospital. “I am the son of a farmer. He threw me out of home because of damage to the crop. I have three children. I don’t have the money to feed my children. Hence, I want to commit suicide,” said a handwritten note recovered from the spot. Police said the dead man was from Dausa, a town in western Rajasthan state.
The Aam Admi Party organised the rally, attended by nearly 1,500 people, opposing changes to the Land Acquisition Act introduced by Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s government.
Critics say the changes would make it easier for businesses and the government to buy land and that may disadvantage farmers. In northern Uttar Pradesh state, more than three dozen farmers took their own lives, according to the state’s government. The largely agrarian state — India’s most populous, with 210 million people — declared a state of emergency to seek federal compensation.