Buldhana, Maharashtra: A week after the Supreme Court pulled up former Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh for shielding money lenders, yet another debt ridden farmer in Vidharbha committed suicide.
The supreme courts backing has given a new hope to 5500 farmers in the area who are still struggling under debts taken from well connected private moneylenders.
A Vidharbha farmer Harishchandra Gaikwad killed himself by consuming poison. He blamed a moneylender for threatening him and his family to return a debt he had taken in his suicide note.
“He was in a lot of tension. The moneylender kept threatening him. He had taken my husband's signature on a blank court stamp,” said Harishchandra's wife Bibi Harishchandra Gaikwad.
The incident came just two days after farmer Sarangdhar Singh Chavan's victory in his court battle against a politically connected moneylender.
On the basis of a police diary entry of 2006, the Supreme Court imposed a fine of Rs 10 lakh on the Maharashtra govt. The court held the then chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh responsible for protecting moneylender relatives of Congress MLA Dilip Sananda for grabbing Chavan's land. But Chavan sais that the court verdict is just partial triumph.
“There are many farmers like me who have still not got their land back. The government should take concrete steps in this direction, only then will the harassment and farmer suicides go down,” said Sarangdhar Singh Chavan.
Nearly 5500 farmers in Vidarbha are still struggling under debts taken from well connected private moneylenders.
In the cities people get a loan amount equaling 90percent of their property valuation. Banks give us just Rs 2000 per acre even though our expenditure is Rs 10,000. It is the government that pushes us towards moneylenders,” said Chavan.
But there seems to be new hope in these little lanes of poverty stricken villages in Vidharbha.
“If such a powerful minister and MLA can be named, then there is hope that the state government is on our side and perhaps the suicide rate will go down,” said Manohar Deshmukh, Chief, Wadoda Farmers Association.
The Supreme Court slamming a minister and an MLA has certainly come as a shot in the arm for poor farmers in Vidarbha but the pressure will only really be off them when their land, a lot of which is still in the possession of moneylenders, is returned to them and when getting a bank loan becomes easier.