Agri Business

Please help my father; I get afraid every time he says there is no option but suicide: A third-standard girl student’s letter to Maharashtra CM

Radheshyam Jadhav Pune | Updated on January 22, 2020

File photo of drought hit agricultural land   -  P K Badiger

Daughters in Maharashtra’s drought-hit Marathwada region are struggling to save the lives of their farmer fathers

When a class teacher asked third-standard students to write a letter to the State Chief Minister on the occasion of Republic Day, little Dhanashree Bikkad wrote: “Please save my farmer father from committing suicide”. Thoughts of death haunted the tiny girl and she vented her emotions in the letter. “My father is a farmer. But our Osmanabad district doesn’t get rains during sowing and hence there is no crop. Pappa is always in tension... I get afraid every time he says there is no option but suicide... We get a newspaper in our school which has stories of farmer suicide... please help my father,” wrote Dhanashree, who studies in a government-run Zilla Parishad School in Kalamb, Osmanabad district, in Maharashtra’s drought-prone Marathwada region.

After repeated crop failures, Dhanashree’s father Ashruba invested in a poultry company, which promised to help him rear the prized ‘Kadaknath’ chickens. But, along with an estimated 10,000 farmers, Ashruba was allegedly duped by the company. Soon after, he started talking about ending his life. His agitated mood and brawling in the house has taken a toll on Dhanashree. She is not alone. Thousands of girls in the Marathwada region face trauma as the shadow of death hovers 24x7 over them.

Trying to reduce the burden on parents

“Life is not easy for girls and women in the region. There is always distress and fear that men in the family would end their life anytime. There is a reverse reaction sometimes. Many girls end their lives to relieve their parents from the burden of education and marriage,” says farmer Geeta Gaikwad.

Dhanashree has written to the State Chief Minister, but a few years ago, Sheetal Vayal and Mohini Bhise from Latur ended their lives, leaving letters to their families and society. The letters drew attention to their fathers’ struggle to survive and customs such as dowry that compounded the many difficulties in their lives.

Beed-based Activist Ashok Tangde says that there is no psychological support for farmers and their families. He added that government efforts are insufficient and there is a need to develop a strong counselling mechanism in the Marathwada and Vidarbha regions.

Meanwhile Ishwar Jadhav, a farmer from Nanded ended his life on Tuesday consuming poison. Jadhav was reeling under a debt burden and was worried about his daughter’s marriage prospects.

Published on January 22, 2020

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