Don't commit suicide, rally urges farmers
"We are moving to crises-hit villages and provide a healing touch to farmers, requesting them not to end lives," Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti president Kishore Tiwari told IANS during the first phase of the three-day "Samvad Yatra" (conversation rally).
Tuesday's meeting was held in Wanjari village in Kelapur sub-district of Yavatmal - the district which has recorded the largest number of farmland suicides in the past decade or so, and will cover around 70 villages by Thursday.
Tiwari said zila parishad (local government body at district level) member R. Nemanwar, village sarpanch (head) Santosh Bodewar, Kaun Banega Crorepati-fame widow Aparna Malikar, activists Mohan Jadhav, Shekha Joshi, Nitin Kamble and others addressed the meeting.
The farmers said social, emotional and economic failure besides lack of food security and government help were reasons behind suicides - more than 11,800 since 2005, including 200 over the past three months.
They spoke of crop devastation due to drought and then floods, lack of food, health or credit facilities from government agencies that compelled their brethren to take the extreme step.
"We are video-graphing the 'yatra' and the proceedings with farmers and sending copies to the President, prime minister, human rights commission and state and central government functionaries hoping they will address farmers' plight," Tiwari said.
Incidentally, software consultant Suresh Ediga, originally hailing from Hyderabad and a non-resident Indian, has granted a personal donation of Rs.70,000 to the "yatra".
Tiwari said, "The amount has been spent in arranging logistics support for the 'yatra' as it travels to the suicide-hit villages in the region."