FARMER suicides in Marathwada continue to spiral, with 723 deaths recorded till Monday in a span of nine months since January this year. On Monday evening, a 45-year-old farmer allegedly committed suicide after he was “publicly” humiliated in front of the villagers of Khuntephal in Latur district by two private finance company officials.
Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana (SSS) chief Raju Shetti said his workers have approached the police and demanded strict action against officials of the finance companies “We will take out a morcha in Latur to protest against continuous humiliation of farmers which is forcing them to take the extreme step,” Shetti told this paper on Tuesday.
Shetti said Vishnu Hari Survase, a farmer from Khuntphal village, had taken a collective loan of Rs 3 lakh from two finance companies. “The EMI was Rs 1,123 which he had not paid for one month. But the officers landed in the village on Monday and humiliated him by using foul language against the farmer. The farmer then paid the amount on Monday itself and in the evening ended his life at his residence,” Shetti said. He said the incident once against reflects the way the Devendra Fadnavis government functions.
“Farmer loan waivers are not happening. They are being delayed indefinitely. Farmers are not getting fresh loans, crop failures continue to hit them hard and they are being blatantly hassled by lenders. This is because the government is not showing either a sense of urgency or sending out strong messages to those who are out to make life miserable for the depressed farming community,” he said.
Manik Kadam, president of the SSS Marathwada unit, said they would lodge a police complaint against the finance company officials on Wednesday. “We will take out a massive morcha in Latur against the harassment of farmers,” he said.
Kishore Tiwari, who heads the state government-appointed special task force — Vasantrao Naik Sheti Swavalamban Mission — said, “Farmers in the state are facing problems on different fronts as the loan waiver has not come into effect so far. The process is under way and once its implementation starts, farmers will certainly get a huge relief.”
Echoing the view, Aurangabad district collector Naval Kishore Ram said, “I suppose the loan waiver will actually take effect after Diwali. We expect the suicides to come down once the farmers realise that they have no burden over their head.” Ram, however, said that the current distress has a lot to do with years of crop failure, drought situation and poor returns for the farmers. “Though the drought situation has improved since last year, the farmers still carried the burden of the past and their income has only dwindled and not appreciated,” he said.
Meanwhile, of the eight districts of Marathwada, Beed has recorded the highest suicide figure like the previous two years. Senior officials in Marathwada don’t seem to have a clue as to why they have not been able to bring down the suicide rates. According to the figures released by Aurangabad divisional commissioner on Tuesday, as many as 723 farmers have ended their lives till October 8.
Till September 30, the figure of suicides stood at 709, which was 14 more than 2016, a year which saw severe drought conditions in Marathwada. In Latur, the government had to rope in a train to fetch water from Miraj, a distance of 300 km, to quench the thirst of its people. Beed, home turf of Rural Development, Women and Child Welfare Minister Pankaja Munde, has recorded the highest number of suicides — 143 — since January this year.