Marking the 31st anniversary of the first recorded farmer's suicide on March 19, 1986, lakhs of farmers in Maharashtra will observe a one-day 'fast' on Sunday, an activist said here on Saturday.
"It was exactly 31 years ago that a farmer, Sahebrao Karpe and his entire family comprising wife and four minor children, ended their lives owing to unpaid farm debts. It is the first recorded farmland suicide in the state which took place in Cheelgavhan village in Yavatmal," Kisanputra Andolan leader Amar Habib told IANS.
At that time, renowned farmers leader and Shetkari Sanghatana founder, late Sharad Joshi had visited the village and warned that unless the government acted urgently, farmland suicides would become a norm in the state and country.
"Since the death of Karpe and his family, farmland suicides have not stopped with an average of nine debt-hit farmers ending their lives daily. In 31 years, Maharashtra has recorded over 67,000 farmers' suicides, including women and youth," Habib said.
Sunday's spontaneous statewide agitation would serve to highlight the plight of the farming community in the state and other parts of the country besides sensitising the government on the need to take urgent measures to ease their sufferings, he said.
Habib would lead the agitation in Yavatmal, while several thousands of farmers in Vidarbha, Northern Maharashtra, Western Maharashtra and Marathwada will join the day-long 'fast' in their villages, talukas and district headquarters.
Farmers, who have migrated to Mumbai in search of (non-farming) jobs and other major cities like Pune and Nagpur shall also join Sunday's agitation which has secured support from all the major political and non-political organisations, NGOs, grassroots activists and individuals across the state, he added.
However, the farmers of the coastal Konkan belt districts of Thane, Palghar, Raigad, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg will not participate since they are not solely dependent on farming for their survival, but engage in tourism, fishing, or employment in Mumbai or Thane.
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