While the whole country was busy celebrating the 64th Republic Day, the drought-hit farmers in Vidarbha - infamous as the suicide capital of India - were protesting against what they called as 'insensitive government' at Maregaon village in Yavatmal district of Maharashtra on January 26.
“There are more than 10,000 farmer widows and families who lost their bread earners since 2005 in Vidarbha agrarian crisis, still we are denied relief aid by the administration. To draw the attention of the administration massive protest has been organized on 26th January and we will pray god to give wisdom to government to save us,” informed Bebytai Bais, President of Vidarbha Farmers’ Widows Association.
According to Kishore Tiwari, president of the farmers’ advocacy group Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS), Maregoan was chosen as the venue because a parliamentary panel headed by veteran Member of Parliament Basudeb Acharya had visited the village last year to look into the causes of Agrarian crisis. “But again government failed to address the main cause of distress of three million cotton farmers of Vidarbha region who continue to commit suicides,” Tiwari said.
Six farmers have committed suicide in the last 72 hours and according to Tiwari, the toll has already reached 20 in this year. “The state government has failed to give food security, health care facility and educational help to distressed farmers and diseased farm families’ members who committed suicide even after National commission for farmers (NCF) headed by Dr. M. S. Swaminathan and Dr. Narendra Jadhav committee recommendations,” Tiwari said, adding, “This shows government apathy towards the crisis which is a matter of serious concern for the civil society.”
He said the protest has been organized to protest the apathy. “To bring attention of the central government hundreds of farm widows decided to observe a day-long fast on 26th Jan, observing Republic Day as Black Day at Maregoan,” Tiwari said.