To commemorate the 31st death anniversary of the first farmer suicides in Maharashtra and draw the state’s attention to the issues forcing farmers to take the drastic step, various organisations have given a call of a day-long fast on March 19. Protesters are seeking revocation of the three acts they claim are acting like a ‘noose around the neck of farmers’.
Against the backdrop of the rising suicides, despite satisfactory rainfall and rise in the crops last year, Kisanputra, a Marathwada-based organisation has given a call for a day-long fast on Sunday. The organisation, which has support from various groups, eminent personalities and individuals, has appealed people to observe the fast at their homes instead of gathering at a common place. Moreover, no representation would be made to the government.
“The Land Acquisition Act, the Agriculture Land Ceiling Act and the Essential Commodities Act have proven to be the real noose around the neck of the farmers. Until these acts are repealed, there cannot be profitable farming in the country. These acts have resulted in reducing land holdings of the farmers to less than 2 acres across India. In comparison to the 70’s, the number of the marginal land holding has increased five times. With the fall in land holding, farmers are unable to recover even the production cost,” said Amar Habib, who is spreaheading the agitation.
Sahebrao Karpe, a farmer, committed suicide along with his wife and four children after failing to pay the electricity bill 31 years ago. These deaths were the first farmer suicides on record in the state. Following this tragedy, activist late Sharad Joshi had then said that if neglected, the plight of farmers may take serious turn in the future.
“His prophecy has come true. In the last two years, we have witnessed highest number of suicides,” Habib said, adding that the word about observing the day-long fast is being propagated via social and print media. He added that lakhs of farmers and believers in the cause from Marathwada and Vidarbha are participating in the protest.
Sahitya Akademi awardee writer Asaram Lomate, activist Sureshchandra Mhatra and lyricist Guru Thakur are a few of the eminent personalities supporting the protest.