Money-lender ‘sets’ farmer ablaze; 8 debt trap Vidarbha farmers’ suicides in last 48 hrs.

By Pervez Bari,

Bhopal, 19 June:
The suicidal death dance of cotton growing farmers in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra state continues unabated. 
While one farmer was "set" on fire allegedly by a money-lender or he set himself ablaze in a suicide bid, eight more debt trap Vidarbha farmers' suicides were reported in last 48 hours. 
These who committed suicides are: Samadhan Paighan of village Sawargoan & Santosh Purshottam Deshmukh (both in Akola district), Babusingh Rathode of village Eklara & Ashok Rathode of Bhankunda (both in Washim district), Purshttam Mandale of Chillai, Sadhu Borkar of Wegoan &.Pandurang Bondre of Kamathwada (all three in Yavatmal district), Sunil Thakare of Borgoan in Amravati district. The death toll of farmers due to suicides has crossed the 450 mark in this year since January 2007.
The latest in the series is the story of a cotton farmer in Akola, who is fighting for survival in hospital after being set ablaze allegedly by a money-lender. A TV news channel CNN-IBN reported such a shocking story of debt trap Vidarbha farmer today.
Mohan Bhati's father had taken a loan of Rs. 50,000 from the money-lender in 1998. Mohan says the loan has been repaid, but this is what he was made to suffer after he began farming his land. 
"They set me on fire and left me burning. They left me there to die," says Mohan.  
While no case has been registered against the money-lender so far, the police instead have registered a case of attempted suicide against Mohan. 
According to Police Inspector, Akola, Chatar Singh Ingle Mohan said he set himself on fire because he couldn't repay his debt.    
"We registered a suicide case against him," the police said.
The report said that Mohan's case is just one face of the agrarian crisis in Vidarbha. Despite tall claims by the government, farmers in Vidarbha still face difficulty in securing loan from government agencies. And they are left with no option but to turn to private money-lenders. 
The money-lenders charge heavy interest and eventually take over the land when the loan remains unpaid. The situation has worsened over the years, and over 2,000 farmers have given up their lives in the last five years alone. 
The Nagpur-based Vidarbha Jan Andolan Samiti, (VJAS), president Kishor Tiwari, who is spearheading the cause of the widows,  has demanded high level judicial enquiry in to the CNN-IBN report. He also urged redressal of long pending demands of loan waiver and restoration of cotton price in order to stop ongoing farmers suicide in Vidarbha region. 
Meanwhile, as per NABARD orders bankers are not giving fresh crop loans to any defaulter or new farmers. So, it's free for all for money-lenders who are exploiting the situation. ([email protected])