Farmers' leader Sharad Joshi leaves fortune to associates

Farmers’ leader Sharad Joshi, who passed away on December 12 after a prolonged illness, will not only be remembered for inspiring an uprising of peasants against the government, but also for a enlightened will that was read out on Friday to family and friends.

Sharad Joshi
Sharad Joshi 

The 80-year-old who died in his Pune home, has left most of his assets to his associates who supported him in his fight for the cause of farmers.

Darshani Bhat, Anant Deshpande and Sureshchandra Mhatre inherited Rs 20 lakh each from the funds the leader had raised by selling 15 acres of farmland near Pune. The will was read at a small prayer meeting held on the banks of River Wardha in Pavanar village, where his ashes were immersed.

According to Ravi Kashikar, one of three executors of Joshi’s will, Bhat had been looking after the leader for 15 years. “She was Joshi’s god daughter. She also contributed significantly to the farmers’ movement,” said Kashikar.

The second beneficiary, Deshpande shifted to Pune from Latur to support Joshi’s cause. “Deshpande was Joshi’s shadow. He would be there for the leader at any given time,” said Kashikar.
Mhatre — who was also executioner of the will — works in the office of Shetkari Sanghatana, which Joshi led from the front. Mhatre edited the organisation’s magazine Shetkari Sanghatan.
Joshi, before his death, had already given his driver Babanrao Gaikwad Rs 10 lakh.

In his lifetime, Joshi spent a significant amount from his own pocket to return the money farmers lost when the cooperative company called Shivar went bust. “Joshi asked them to send an application and gave them the money,” said Kashikar, who denied rumours that the late leader had also left Rs 25 lakh to a defunct solvent cooperative in Hinganghat near Wardha.

The former Rajya Sabha member, who inspired rural women folk to join the farmers’ agitation, has willed Rs 13 lakh for ‘Sita Mandir’ in Raver in Yavatmal district, and given six acres of remaining farm land to Shetkari Sanghatana Trust to build a multi-facility auditorium for the trust’s activities.

Fact file

>> Joshi, a former Indian Postal Service officer, pioneered the pin code system in India.
>> He had a rain-fed farmland in Ambethan near Pune where he experimented with modern technology.
>> He applied basics of economics to sustainable farming. This gave rise to the Shetkari Sanghatana, which spread across
the state.
>> Joshi demanded that farmers get a remunerative compensation for their produce — the method manufacturers follow in pricing their production.

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