Friday, October 13, 2006

DNA reports-“Bhai tension nahi leneka, mast rehneka. Apun ayega phir se"-kisanbhai lage raho'

DNA reports-“Bhai tension nahi leneka, mast rehneka. Apun ayega phir se"-kisanbhai lage raho'

Debt-ridden farmers turn to Gandhigiri

Jaideep Hardikar
Friday, October 13, 2006 23:17
NAGPUR: Farmers in the Yavatmal district of Maharashtra are resorting to Gandhigiri. Neck-deep in debt, the farmers decided to adopt this method of protest on Thursday and Friday, in typical Munnabhai-style, and offered flowers to bank officials who stubbornly refused to give them any more crop loans.

Christening the protests as ‘Lagey Raho Kisan-bhai’, the farmers marched to the banks with a band amidst police bandobast, garlanded its manager and offered him flowers. The women washed his feet and performed a ‘puja’.

Then, with folded hands and smiling faces, they asked him: “Ae bhai, loan lene ko kab aneka (When do we come for our loan)?” Yavatmal falls in Vidarbha, a drought-prone region, which has witnessed suicide by hundreds of farmers, due to failure of crop.

Activists say nearly a thousand farmers had committed suicide in the past one-and-a-half-year owing to increasing debt, and despite the government’s instructions, bank officials are not approving loans. “There’s no other way to demand credit, so we thought let’s try this method, may be the officials would melt,” says Kishor Tiwari of the Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti who led the protests.

Over 200 farmers have killed themselves in Yavatmal alone after the Prime Minister Manmohan Singh announced a package in Nagpur on July 1. That figure for Vidarbha is inching towards 400, as per the VJAS records.

“The banks are under-financing to accommodate more farmers this year, which will aggravate the problem of credit and reimbursement instead of easing the crisis,” explains Tiwari. Farmers say the package hasn’t helped them.

Banks apparently stopped giving credit to the farmers after they met the 2006 kharif targets. A State Bank of India officer, who was at the receiving end of the protests, told the campaigners that he was helpless since he was bound by the orders from his top-brass. He agreed to release fresh l

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