The Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha entered into the Vidarbha region on 9th March from the Nanded district. Nanded although in the Marathwada region is for all purposes an extension of Vidarbha as far as the agrarian scenario is concerned. Over two thousand peasants, adivasis, dalits and agricultural workers as well as scheme workers had gathered at the meeting in Kinvat Taluk. The meeting was preceded by a procession through the town. The road from Adilabad in Andhra Pradesh to Kinvat in Maharashtra was filled with red flags on literally all trees and also on the rocks for the whole distance of around 40 km. Slogans demanding land to landless and forest rights for adivasis, food security, education, jobs and health facilities for all were found throughout the entire route.
In Yavatmal, the first meeting was held at Mahagaon and the second meeting was held at Yavatmal Town. The Jatha leaders expressed solidarity with the families of 2 farmers who had committed suicide due to debt at Mahagaon.
Farmers' Suicides Continue
Govind Ramji Harini a man into his sixties is yet to overcome the grief or the loss of his young son Arvind who was his support in agriculture and even more so in his old age. Arvind, aged 27, committed suicide 4 months back unable to repay the loan of 62,000 which he and his father had taken from the State Bank of India and Central Bank. The cotton crop which he had on his 4 acre land in Bhaam village of Mahagaon Taluk in Yavatmal had failed. Arvind was only married last year and has a daughter just eight months old. Govind Ramji rues that the cotton seeds were too costly and the claim that it would not be affected by pests was patently wrong he said. He claimed plant protection costs were a significant part of the costs incurred. The increasing cost of fertilizers as well as irrigation costs have further burdened the farmers he said. The non-remunerative prices, high interest rates and absence of government support has pushed farmers to take such extreme steps he said. The family has not received any compensation nor have their loans been waived. No elected representatives or government officials have even bothered to visit the family be said.
When asked what gives him the strength to go on, he proudly says he is a member of the Kisan Sabha and the red flag has taught him that struggle is the only way.
Shantabhai Madhav Pawar, is the widow of Madhav Pawar, who committed suicide 4 years back. She belongs to Kalitembi village in Mahagaon. The 45 year old Shantabhai said her husband had taken a loan of about one lakh from banks as well as local money lenders and on the failure of the cotton crop four years back he took his life drinking a bottle of pesticide. She said neither did the government help in any way nor has it provided any employment through the MGNREGS. She said, having only an APL card, her family of 5 gets only 10kg of rice at Rs.7 per kg. She gets only around 10 days of work in a month at Rs.100 per day, and it's difficult to make ends meet. She said she had been coming to all programmes of the Party and was happy the Party had taken up the issues most important to people like her and launched the Sangharsh Sandesh Jatha. She assured she would come to the Delhi rally with jowar rotis packed and was ready to stay till the deaf government heeds to the demands.