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Maharashtra farmers torch minister's effigy over suicide remark
Sunday May 10, 2015 8:14 PM, IANS

Yavatmal (Maharashtra): Hundreds of farmers on Sunday burned effigies and posters of Maharashtra Agriculture Minister Eknath Khadse's for his recent remarks that tribal farmers don't commit suicide as they were "morally strong" and that the state government has no solutions to stop farmland suicides.

The farmers, including many women, raised slogans against Khadse for his recent remarks, an activist said.

"Farmers want the minister to clarify his remarks, whether he implies that the other non-tribal farmers who ended their lives were 'immoral' or not," an enraged Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti (VJAS) chief Kishore Tiwari told IANS.

He said there was massive unrest against the government apathy towards the serious agrarian crises in Vidarbha and other parts of the state with spells of drought, unseasonal rains and hailstorms.

"In such a situation, the minister's remarks are insensitive and condemnable. The same BJP during the 2014 Lok Sabha and assembly election campaign had promised to resolve the agrarian crisis after coming to power.

"In less than a year, they raise questions of morality and admit lack of solutions," Tiwari said.

Over the past nearly two decades, there have been dozens of committees, commissions and expert panel reports on the farmland crises, and now Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis has also invited Israeli experts, yet Khadse feels there is no solution to the problem, he lamented.

Tiwari reiterated that as per the government's records, more than 50 percent of the farmers who ended their lives belonged to the Scheduled Tribes, Notified Tribes and Scheduled Castes, who are denied institutional credit, exploited by private money lenders and have no access to government welfare schemes.

The VJAS provided names of many tribal farmers who committed suicide in 2015 alone, and challenged minister Khadse to go and personally verify their credentials.

Tiwari said the agrarian crisis became critical due to the introduction of new seeds and new cultivation methods, besides cash crops replacing sustainable drought-prone food crops around the state since 1998.

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