The late farmers’ leader Sharad Joshi had left his cushy job in Sweden and came to Pune to work for the cause of agriculture and agriculturists. His last will, just like the first step he took towards the cause, is a reflection of the deep bonds he forged with his calling and the people he lived and fought for. Joshi, in his will, has bequeathed his entire property to the Shetkari Trust to be used for the cause dear to his heart. He has left just his flat in Pune to his two daughters.
Joshi, the founder of the Shetkari Sanghatana, breathed his last in Pune earlier this month. Ravi Kashikar, the executor of his will while speaking about the last testament of Joshi, said other than a few personal mentions, Joshi’s entire property has been given for the cause of farmers.
“His long-time associate Sureshchandra Mhatre, his adopted daughter Darshana Bhatt and his caretaker Anant Deshpande have been bequeathed Rs 20 lakh each,” he said.
The major chunk of Joshi’s property, which includes around five acres of land in Ambethan village of Khed taluka in Pune district, has been made over to the Shetkari Trust, which is entrusted to take his work forward. Other than Kashikar, former MLA Vamanrao Chattrap, Govind Joshi, Sureshchandra Mhetre, Badrinath Deokar, Bhaskarbhau Borake, Ramchandra Bapu Patil and others are members of the trust, which was founded by Joshi.
The last of the three great farmers’ leaders the country has seen, Joshi was known for his scientific approach towards farmers’ issues and acceptance of the open market economy. During his heydays, Joshi’s movements had attracted huge response across the state from the agricultural community. His funeral was attended by thousands with many supporters travelling from interior parts of the state to Pune.
Back in the 1970s, Joshi had taken the decision to leave his job with the United Nations and settle in Ambethan to practise farming. He had purchased around 22 acres of land in the village to practise rain-fed agriculture to learn first-hand the issues plaguing the sector in India. The major chunk of the land was sold during the period 1996-2000 to pay off shareholders in the defunct company called Shivar.
The brainchild of Joshi, Shivar was a private limited company which was formed to set up malls and other selling points for products produced by rural women in the state. At the call of Joshi, many farmers in the state had become shareholders in the company. When the company went defunct, Joshi had made a special request to Shetkari Trust to return the money of the shareholders. To realise the money, Joshi had sold 15 acres of land in Ambethan. During that period, he had also bequeathed Rs 10 lakh to his driver Babanrao Gaikwad. Around Rs 13 lakh was given by Joshi during that period for the renovation of the only Sita Mandir in Maharashtra, at Raveri, in Yavatmal district. The remaining five acres of land at Ambethan has been bequethed to the Shetkari Trust. Joshi’s immediate family, that is Shreya Sahane and Gauri Joshi, have been bequeathed his flat in Bopodi, which was purchased during 2007-08.
Kashikar said the trust would meet in the first week of January and plan the next stepof the movement. “We would like to build a memorial for Joshi at Ambethan also,” he said.