The state government's claim that the rate of debt-ridden farmers suicides has reduced drastically in Vidarbha was exposed when a farmer from neighbouring Chandrapur district committed suicide on Saturday evening. The deceased farmer, in a suicide note left behind, blamed the bank and state government machinery for harassing him mentally forcing him to take the drastic step.
Pandharinath Kashinath Itankar, a disabled and a progressive farmer from Visapur in the district had 12 acres of land. However, he was facing hardships for the three consecutive years following crop failure and the subsequent overburden of crippling debts left him in dire straits with no hope in sight. So much so that the rising debts posed a hurdle to enable his sons, Ashish, Shivkumar and Mayur to get education.
He had borrowed Rs 50,000 from two different co-operative societies and Rs 35,000 from a nationalised bank. He could not repay the loans since the last couple of years due to repeated crop failure and high cost of agro-inputs. Of late, the cooperative societies and bank officials used to come knocking at his doors, harassing him for repaying the loan, he alleged in the suicide note. The bank officials also sent him a warning letter to repay loans four days before he took the extreme step.
A self-respecting Itankar was unable to remain a mute spectator to repeated blows to his self-esteem. Unable to take the harassment anymore, he decided to end it all by consuming poison at his residence. The suicide note recovered during the autopsy made a shocking revelation about harassment caused by the district administration, office-bearers of co-operative societies and bank officials, as also being harried by agriculture department officials. The deceased farmer made all these revelations and also signed the note, after writing some religious intonations.
Talking to Hindustan Times, the Chandrapur district collector Pradip Kalbhor informed that he has given an order to probe the incident. "I am expecting the report within a week," he added.
Meanwhile, the farmers’ suicide are again on the rise with eight more proverty-stricken farmers ending their lives in the last 48 hours in the region. Of them, four were Yavatmal, two from Amravati while one each was from Chandrapur and Buldhana district. The latest victims were identified as : Deorao Pakhale of Ganeshpur, Devidas Rathod, Shendola, Uddhav Ade, Shembarpimpri, Bhujangrao Karkule of Vrindavan-Takli (all from Yavatmal), Nirmala Rathod of Manjri, Hiraman Kale, Zhurupurna (both in Amravati), Vasant Chavan, Jhalka (Buldhana) and Pandhrinath Itankar (Chandrapur).
On the other hand, the prime minsiter Dr Manmohan Singh is expected to visit Vidarbha by the end of this month to reivew the implementation of the union economic package of Rs 3,750-crore which was announced in July last year.
Ironically, since the PM package was announced, over 1,350 farmers in the region have killed themselves. The state government, however, claimed that the rate of suicide due to agrarian reasons crop failure and indebtness has reduced drastically since the implementation of the PM and the state packages.
Now the total farmers’ suicide since January has crossed 600 mark taking the toll to 609.