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HOLDING her dead husband’s photo in one hand and dipping biscuit into a cup of tea with another, Subbama (35) talked to the other women sitting with her at Parliament Street, Monday. Hailing from Taticherla village in Andhra Pradesh’s Anantapur district, she lost her husband, a farmer, three years ago, when he committed suicide.
Subbama, along with 544 women whose husbands committed suicide due to crop failure and loss of land, shared their problems with activist Medha Patkar, in a women’s parliament organised by over 180 outfits under the banner of the All India Kisan Sangharsh Coordination Committee Monday.
Demanding fair and remunerative price for their crops and loan waivers for farmers, the women said they are trapped by the agrarian crisis and are unable to educate their children.
“After calculating the interest, I have to pay Rs 4 lakh to the landlord, from whom my husband leased three acres to grow onions,” Subbama said. “After my husband died, I was locked inside my house for three days. The landlord let me out only when he realised that he would not be able to recover the money if I die as well,” she said.
Subamma and her two daughters now work in the fields as labourers. “The government should save us from the landlord’s clutches. He keeps pestering me to repay the debts. I don’t even get Rs 1,000 as widow pension,” she claimed.
Raj Kanya (35) from Maharashtra’s Chhindwara district said, “The government took our land to build a dam and paid us Rs 4 lakh. Now the money and the land are both gone. I don’t know how to feed my children… We were displaced to the hilltop. My daughters’ stopped going to school — which is 10 km away — as the boys used to tease them.”
Savitri, from Haryana’s Rewda village, said, “I have a debt of over Rs 2 lakh; my crop failed as the water is bad.” Most women said they can continue farming — but only if they get help from the government.