Even AS farmers across the state withdrew their week-long strike on Thursday, the municipal town of Karmala saw farmers observing a shutdown over the suicide of a farmer, Dhanaji Jadhav. The 42-year-old allegedly hanged himself and in a suicide note, suspected to have been written by him, asked for the presence of Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis before his body was cremated. Angry farmers shut several roads in the area on Thursday and the protest was withdrawn after Solapur’s guardian minister intervened and facilitated a telephonic conversation between a family member of the deceased and the chief minister.
The body of Jadhav, a resident of Jambuzara Vasti in Veet village of Karmala taluka in the district, was found hanging from a tree outside his home late Wednesday night. The Solapur district police found a suicide note in his pocket.
Deputy Superintendent of Police Prashant Swami told The Indian Express over phone: “A note, which is suspected to have been written by Jadhav, has been found in his pocket. He said in the note that he had a debt and was ending his life because of it. We are yet to get the details of the loans he had taken.” Swami confirmed that in the note, Jadhav had written to his family members that he should not be cremated till the CM visited them.
Over the past seven days, Maharashtra has been rocked by the farmers’ strike that has had seen farmers hit the roads across the state. Other than disrupting supplies, farmers have carried out agitations to demand complete loan waiver. The chief minister’s offer of loan waiver for small and marginal farmers had not gone down well with the farmers who struck to the strike that was called off on Thursday by a new co-ordination committee in Nashik.
Solapur, which incidentally is the home district of Minister for Cooperation Subhash Deshmukh also had seen farmers taking to the roads to demand loan waiver.
Jadhav, the villagers said, was in the forefront of the protests in his area. Ganesh Mangwade, leader of Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana, said following the suicide of Jadhav, his family members and villagers refused to accept the body after the post-mortem. Jadhav is survived by his parents, wife and two sons, Yogiraj and Yuvraj, who are studying in Classes XII and IX.
Jadhav had two acres of land in Veet and he would at times drive a tractor in the village for money.
After the farmer’s suicide, there was a demand for registration of a case against the chief minster charging him with murder for Jadhav’s death. Anticipating untoward incidents, police had been deployed in the town.
Solapur’s Guardian Minister Vijay Deshmukh, who visited the town, told The Indian Express that Jadhav had an outstanding debt of around Rs 75,000 from the State Bank of India (SBI). “The two acre holding of Jadhav would make him eligible for loan waiver announced by the chief minister,” he said.
Speaking about the phone conversation that Jadhav’s family members had with Fadnavis, he said: “They wanted the chief minister to come to the spot but after the telephonic talk, they withdrew the agitation.” The minister said he would try to arrange for financial help for the deceased farmer’s son from the chief minister’s relief fund.
Jadhav’s last rites were performed on Thursday around 3 pm amid heavy police deployment. Farmer suicide has been a thorny issue in Maharashtra and this year, till May end, Vidharbha and Marathwada regions have seen around 740 such incidences.
In recent years, the Fadnavis government has been facing criticisms for the suicides and for its failure to address the agrarian crisis brewing in the state. The farmers’ strike found the government cornered and trying to defend itself against allegations that it was orchestrating a move to break up the bandh.