Denied relief, 3 Vidarbha farmers commit suicide
One suicide note asks people not to vote for the NCP-Congress as ‘they will ruin people’
While one of the deceased, Gajanan Thorat, is from Mahsal village in Karanja tehsil of Washim district, the other two — Kamalabai Chavan and Gajanan Ghotekar — are from Kelapur tehsil in Yavatmal.
In the suicide note, Ghotekar has said: “My debt has made it difficult for me to marry off my daughter. Please take care of my family after me.” His plea to people “not to vote for the NCP-Congress ever since they will wipe out the farmers and destroy the nation,” is bound to create ripples in the ruling combine at a time when the assembly is in session.
This cotton farmer, who committed suicide in the early hours of Friday, was struggling to cope with instalments for a loan he had taken last season to buy a tractor. Police have now taken possession of the suicide note and are questioning Ghotekar’s family members.
Kishore Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) told DNA, “The state government went out of its way to publicise its relief aid to cotton farmers of Vidarbha in December 2011. Though the state tom-tomed a figure of Rs2,000 crore, till today not a single paisa has been paid to distressed farmers.”
According to Tiwari, the sudden move by the Centre on March 4 to impose a blanket ban on cotton export and the imposition of stringent conditions for cotton export has come as the proverbial last straw. “This has severely affected raw cotton rates. From Rs4,200 per quintal it has fallen to Rs3,400 a quintal. Unless this is addressed it will lead to another spiral in farmer suicides in the belt.”
Seven million cotton farmers, who cultivate cotton in 12 million hectares across Maharashtra, Gujarat, Andhra Pradesh, Madhya Pradesh, Rajasthan and Punjab are grappling with the worst agrarian crisis with rising costs of the production and poor support price.
Union agriculture minister Sharad Pawar has already demanded removal of all barriers on export in agricultural products in a move which has found support from Maharashtra CM Prithviraj Chavan, Gujarat CM Narendra Modi and Andhra Pradesh CM N Kiran Kumar Reddy. Despite this, the commerce ministry has refused to budge, lament sources.
“All earlier GOM meeting have been hijacked and babus from the commerce ministry and cotton advisory board have been giving fabricated data of national cotton consumption and production to justify restrictions imposed on cotton export. How can the government ignore the plight of 10 million farmers and their families to protect the interests of a few?” alleged Tiwari.