By: Express News Service | Mumbai | January 24, 2021

A group of farmers’ widows from Vidarbha region in Maharashtra have arrived in Delhi to take part in the ongoing farmers’ agitation. At least 60 widows, who are in their mid 30s and 40s, will participate in the farmers’ tractor rally on Republic Day.

On Sunday, Bharati Pawar took to the makeshift podium at a protest site, holding a picture of her husband, a farmer who committed suicide unable to bear crop loss.

Addressing the protesters, Pawar said, “I have come from Kelapur taluka in district Yavatmal in Vidarbha region of Maharashtra. This is a taluka and district which leads in the highest number of farm suicides. I want to share with you how the three contentious laws which the centre has brought are putting farmers in greater financial crisis.”

“Today, I stand here to express solidarity with Punjab farmers. I don’t want my sisters in Punjab to go through the tragedy we witnessed in Maharashtra,” she added.

If the government is subjecting farmers to such hardships by dismissing our demands, they have no right to continue in the Centre, she said.

“We women have experienced tragedy. When a farmer commits suicide the entire family is badly affected. There are small children, old in-laws ravaged by the incident and need special care. We have to shoulder the responsibilities keeping aside our own pain and sorrow. But I would like to reassure you that we come from the land Maharashtra where Jhansi Ki Rani was born. At this trying moment, Maharashtra promises to stand with Punjab,” Pawar said.

While the agitating Punjab and Haryana farmers have their own concerns about the three farm laws, the problems of dryland farmers are high input cost, lack of remunerative prices, stagnation of crop patterns and unjust farm credit policy. Today, of 1.5 crore hectare of land under cultivation in Maharashtra, about 1 crore hectare are under only two crops, cotton and soyabean. Remaining land covers all other crops. It clearly shows there is an urgent need for changing the crop pattern. While regions like Vidarbha have abysmal irrigation, the institutional credit disbursal gets stuck once the farmer defaults on repayment. Thus, farm credit policy also needs reforms. We support legalisation of the Minimum Support Price (MSP) since it’s a common practice across the world to give subsidies to farmers. Our farmers need it the most.”