Vidarbha farmers’ widows granted time at last to meet President

By Pervez Bari,
Bhopal, June 14: After much dilly-dallying the Maharashtra Government at the proverbial 11th hour has granted permission to the widows of farmers of Vidarbha region of the state who had committed suicides due to agrarian crisis to have an audience with the President of India Dr. A P J Abdul Kalam when he visits Yavatmal tomorrow (June 15).
The permission was granted to stall a threatened black-flag demonstration before the President which would have caused an embarrassing situation to one and all. 
Earlier, the local administration had denied permission to the widows to meet the President during his visit to Yavatmal. However, after media exposed the apathy of the administration over the farmers' suicides issue, Collector of Yavatmal Ms Abha Shukla informed the Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), president Kishor Tiwari, who is spearheading the cause of the widows, that the President of India has granted permission to meet a delegation of Vidarbha farmers' widows at Yavatmal airport at around 10 a.m. for 5 minutes.
According to a Press release of VJAS led by widows Mrs. Kamlabai Gosavi Pawar along with his son Prakash Pawar of suicide-prone village Kolzari, where Indian Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh was to visit last year on 1st July 2006 but failed to do so because of the opposition of local administration, and  Mrs. Sarswatibai Ramdas Ambarwar of village Telangtakli have been included in the delegation. Widows Mrs. Nanda Bhandare Rekha Gurnule and Mrs. Smita Bakamwar will also present their plights of the Vidarbha farmers' widows. The delegation of widows, accompanied by the VJAS president Tiwari and his close associates, will submit a memorandum to the President on the agrarian crisis in Vidarbha. 
The VJAS, earlier, had sought a five-minute appointment with the President to brief him about the prevailing situation and the President's office also had shown keenness but it was rejected by the Maharashtra Government, citing administrative and law and order problems. 
VJAS alleged that the government wants only the leader of the delegation to meet the President but this will not serve the purpose. If the President interacts with farmers and the widows, he will come to know about the condition of distressed farmers. 
Tiwari said that VJAS, which does not want to politicise the issue, has decided to present case before the President and will request him to ask details of farmers suicides under Art. 72 of Indian Constitution. In Vidarbha in last four years more than 4000 cotton farmers committed suicides. Vidarbha is sitting on a suicide volcano so it is not expected from the President of India to attend fanfare of a private college function. The VJAS leader has requested him to cut short his visit from Yavatmal
airport itself so that it will not carry the wrong impression to international media which is covering the Vidarbha agrarian crisis.  
"We will try to present our case and raise main demands of loan waiver and better price to cotton before the President so that it will serve our purpose to pressurize Maharashtra Government", Tiwari added. ([email protected])