From farm debts to KBC prize, a Vidarbha widow's story
Two years ago,
her world collapsed when her husband of six years committed
suicide. At 25, she was a widow, unable to bear the burden of
loans he had accumulated as a farmer. With two children, she
braced for a colourless life. But when all seemed bleak, a ray of
light appeared - a television show.
farmer's widow, who recently won Rs.640,000 on quiz show 'Kaun
Banega Crorepati' (KBC), has asked United Progressive Alliance (UPA)
chairperson Sonia Gandhi to save her from her harassing in-laws,
or else she would commit suicide.
In a letter to Gandhi, Aparna Malikar, 27, narrates how she is
subjected to severe mental harassment and injustice after her
husband committed suicide in 2008 due to crop failure, leaving
behind a huge debt.
"My in-laws, who are very well to do and have political
affiliations, are harassing me as they want the 12-acre piece of
land I am cultivating," Malikar told IANS.
"After my husband died, I was forced by his brothers to leave the
house. They locked the house and threw me and my two daughters
out. I built a hut near the farm and have been staying there with
my daughters," Malikar said.
She said her in-laws did not even pay off the Rs.50,000 debt of
her late husband. "They took away the house and want the farm too,
then why not the debt too? I am the one toiling hard to pay it
off," she said.
In her letter in Marathi, Malikar has also narrated the plight of
8,000 other Vidarbha farm widows who are facing similar fate after
their husbands committed suicide. Like Malikar, these widows were
also denied the right to cultivate their lands.
She urged Gandhi to make a law to protect the rights of farm
widows and provide a complete rehabilitation package.
Malikar's late husband Sanjay was the younger brother of Nagpur-based
Congress leader and former deputy mayor of the Nagpur Municipal
"My husband was the official cultivator of the land, but the
income was also shared by other brothers Raghunath, Sunil and Raju
who didn't even stay in our village (Varha Kawatha)," Malikar
"When the debt started rising owing to the agrarian crisis in
2005, harassment from the family members added to the agony of my
husband and hence he was forced to kill himself," Malikar added.
She also accused Raghunath of using his political contacts to turn
the case of suicide into a case of culpable homicide against her
father and brother.
"Raghunath lodged an FIR against my father Arun Tathe and brother
Amol Tathe. They were arrested and put behind bars for many days,"